Aug. 19, 2020 UPDATE
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine- 北野天満宮 -
Simple English brochures are available at the 'Shamu-sho' shrine office. It is a bit difficult to access Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, but it's right in front of the bus stop, so won't be hard to find.
English brochures are available at the 'Shamu-sho' a shrine office English website available (please refer the link below)
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Story & Recommendation
Enjoy the interesting architecture of this historical shrine dedicated to the Deity of wisdom
Established in 947, the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine enshrines Heian period scholar, writer, and politician Sugawara Michizane (845-903). The shrine also presides over more than 12,000 tenmangu shrines dedicated to Sugawara Michizane’s spirit across Japan and is affectionately referred to as “Tenjin san” by locals and worshippers. The Honden main shrine and Haiden worship hall are designated Japanese National Treasures and students from all over Japan visit them to offer a fervent prayer for their study as the shrine's dedicated to the deity of learning. This is also why wisdom charms are so popular with patrons to the shrine. Also in a theory, it is said that as Sugawara Michizane was born in the year of the ox, there are many ox statues around the shrine grounds too. It's believed that wherever you touch on the statue, you'll be healed. In addition to being known for the deity of learning, being a popular destination to fervent exam prepping school children and its miracle performing ox statues, the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is also a popular spot in early spring for beautiful ume plum blossoms. You can usually catch the blossoms around late February to early March.
Honden (the main shrine)
Although you cannot enter Honden, you can appreciate its weighty solemnness from outside. The shrine's primary deity is Sugawara Kichizane and its architecture is called “Yatsumune-zukuri.” Yatsumune-zukuri is a type of shrine layout that features several buildings lined up in a single complex each with gorgeous roofs. The architecture also has an interesting feature where the Honden and Haiden worshipping halls are connected, allowing you to peer through them. This of style architecture was very modern at that time and it became a popular form of shrine architecture in the following years.
On the 25th of each month, there’s a light-up event called “Go-en-nichi,” the day of Tenjin. From sunset till 9 p.m., 350 stone lanterns and 250 paper lanterns illuminate the shrine grounds, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. The streets around the shrine also fill with food stalls, so we also recommend trying some food too!
Touch the Ushisha Bull Statues
As the ox of the Chinese zodiac is known as the minister of Sugawara Michizane, the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine houses many statues around its grounds. It's believed that the statues will heal wherever you touch. Hence why many believers from across Japan come to the shrine to rub the statues and receive their miracle healing powers.
Buy a Wisdom Charm
As the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's deity, Sugawara Michizane, is known as a deity of wisdom, it's believed that you'll have success in academics when you pray to him. This belief is why students preparing for their entrance exams often come to pray at Kitano Tenmangu and buy wisdom charms. After exams are done, it's also tradition to return the charm to the shrine and burn it in a fire.
- Manner & Tips -
Please do not bring any food that hasn't been bought at the stalls at the entrance of the shrine. It's considered rude to eat on shrine grounds. Please also note that you cannot enter the main Honden shrine.