Mar. 13, 2023 UPDATE
Delve into the World of the Kitano Tenmangu Area - From Basic Info to Hole-in-the-wall Spots; this is the Kitano Tenmangu Area -
Part 2

Model Course

In this part, we’ll be taking a look at a model course–based on the actual route locals take–that makes sure you get the most out of your trip to the Kitano Tenmangu area!
The course also gets you around the best shops and restaurants in the area in a nice and concise way too.
With so many interesting little shops dotted around, we’re sure you’ll run into some places that catch your eye on the way, so if you have time, we say swing as many doors open as you can and pop in and check them out.
With so much history, culture and tradition packed into this one little area, you’re almost certainly going to run into some unexpected places and things along your way – but hey, that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
Hop on a bus and get off at the “Kitano Tenmangu-mae” bus stop just outside the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. From the bus stop, you should be able to see the ginormous torii gate that sits at the entrance to the shrine.
Head over to the gate and start making your way down the path. Here you’ll find the bull statues we mentioned in Part 1, so as you make your way inside, give them a rub and make a wish.
Inside the shrine itself, there’s a ton of things to see and do, including the magnificent honden main hall (designated National Treasure), as well as the Sankomon Gate (Important Cultural Property) and area for hanging ema.
Before exploring the grounds of the shrine, however, take a look at Part 1 to learn more about its history!
Also, just note that if you come during the Tenjin San Market on the 25th, all the stalls and their interesting antiques might distract you from ever actually going inside.
Tawaraya – 12 p.m.
Located in front of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and popular with shrine-goers, Tawaraya is a noodle shop famous for its ippon udon, which literally translates to “a single udon noodle.”
Made with carefully selected ingredients, every bowl of udon and soba at Tawaraya is delicious. However, it’s the restaurant’s dish made up of one single 1 cm thick udon noodle that has for years been one of this area’s signature dishes.
Boiled for around 60 minutes each, these unique noodles sometimes sell out as early as the start of lunchtime, so if you’re thinking of giving a bowl of a single noodle a try, then make sure you get there early.
Hirano Shrine – 1 p.m.
Hirano Shrine
Sitting just north of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the Hirano Shrine is a quaint shrine beloved by people from all around for its immaculate array of cherry blossoms.
While the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine has its plum blossoms, the Hirano Shrine has its cherry blossoms. This includes what’s said to be the first-ever early-blooming variety of cherry blossom, which draws hordes of visitors every year to these small shrine grounds.
The nightly cherry blossom light-up events and lively atmosphere brought on by the rows of classic Japanese food stalls are just a few more reasons why the Hirano Shrine should be on any spring time Kyoto itinerary.
*Due to typhoon damage in 2018, the shrine is currently undergoing heavy reconstruction. However, you are still able to go inside and see the cherry blossoms, so we still recommend visiting.
Kamishichiken – 1:30 p.m.
Sitting to the east of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the Kamishichiken district; home to many of the area’s maiko and geiko performers.
On the district’s aptly named main street, Kamishichiken-dori, you’ll find old cobblestoned streets and Kyoto machiya townhouses, which give the area a traditional Japanese charm.
Along the street, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the vibe of Japan’s ancient capital with the maiko and geiko school/training area, long-standing traditional Japanese restaurants and sweets shops, and traditional crafts shops.
Oimatsu – 2 p.m.
While Kyoto may be home to a great many well-established Japanese sweets shops, Oimatsu stands out as one of particularly high status and tradition. In the olden days, Oimatsu was tasked with presenting catering the sweets line up at events and ceremonies held at the Imperial Court.
Oimatsu’s many beautiful and lovely looking sweets reflect the country’s various seasons and give your eyes something to delight over before eating.
Passing down Japan’s confectionery traditions for over 100 years, Oimatsu also holds confectionery workshops, so if you’re interested in trying your hand at making traditional Japanese sweets, then book now!
Sawaya – 2 p.m.
Another recommended Kitano Tenmangu area Japanese sweets shop is Sawaya. First opening its doors outside of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in the 1600s, Sawaya is a star among stars and was even featured in Kyoto’s oldest guidebook ever published in 1658.
While Sawaya might feel like a bit of squeeze for some, the store maintains its original atmosphere and is constantly abuzz with customers.
At Sawaya, you can enjoy freshly made awa-mochi, a soft version of mochi made from millet and covered in red bean paste.
Unlike regular mochi made from rice flour, the texture of awa-mochi is sure to surprise you with how inexplicably light and airy it is.
If you’re a fan of red bean paste, then Sawaya is a definite must-visit.

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