Kyoto #41: 北野天満宮【Kitano Tenmangu】Part1

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Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto.


In Japan, Kitano Tenman-gu shrine is very famous for students because it’s said that it brings you the academic achievement and school success. That’s why you’ll not only see many tourists but also many students who wear school uniforms.

There are so many attractive things and heritages, so I really recommend to visit there while you stay in Kyoto!! This time, I’ll introduce the benefits and highlights of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.


Kitano Tenman-gu

Kitano Tenman-gu is one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that are enshrined 菅原道真【Michizane Sugawara】who was an excellent scholar and politician. After his death, Kyoto suffered from several natural disasters and fires, which people thought the signs of Michizane’s anger and revenge. They were afraid of these unexpected disasters and built a shrine to pacify his wrath.


According to the history that Michizane Sugawarawa was deeply in love with 梅【plum blossoms】. His passion for plums later became the symbolic crest of plum blossom in Tenmangu shrines. If you’re lucky you can also see people making Umeboshi like below.

In addition, it has many attractions such as the main shrine, the small shrines, and the treasure vault. Several annual events are held every month, and it is crowded with worshipers and tourists regardless of the season.


Let’s start a wonderful journey…
The approach from 一の鳥居【Ichi-no-Torii】to 楼門【Ro-Mon】 is a perfect area for taking a leisurely walk with a good view.




On the way to Ro-Mon Gate, there are about ten statues of ox here and there. You can see many people stroking and worshiping their bodies.  It is said that if people do so, you will get smarter and better. Don’t forget to stroke your head after stroking the head of the statue of the ox.

The statues of ox


Gorgeous Gate and Approach…
If you turn left from Ro-Mon Gate and proceed a little, you will see Sanko-Mon Gate following the main shrine of Tenmangu.

Small shrines along the approach


The gate has sculptures of the sun, the moon, and stars, so there are three lights (三=three, 光=Light) which are known as the name of Sanko-Mon. This Gate in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a precious architecture is designated as an important cultural property of the country. A must-see spot in Kitano Shrine.


More detail

Ornament on the gate


Must must must-see point…
You’ve passed through Sanko-Mon Gate, you’ll finally see the main shrine of Tenman-gu. The Main Shrine, registered as a national treasure. Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine has other benefits such as good luck, health prayer, marriage, and skill improvement in addition to the benefits of fulfilling your studies.


Not only front part, but also…
Go around the back of the main shrine and you will see a shrine with 御簾【Misu】which is bamboo blind. Here, the three ancestors of grandfathers and fathers of Michizane are enshrined and are called 裏の社【Back Shrine】.

Must must must-do thing…
Kyoto’s summer event “Kyoto Tanabata”. At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine, one of the venues, a lantern is decorated on the precincts, and you can enjoy lighting up at night. This event there has started since 2016, so people who visit during this season should go and enjoy!!

One of the highlights is 御手洗川足つけ燈明神事 that you can experience the special thing, which is held only during specific days.

How to do
① First of all, take a reception at the ema at the entrance. Pay 300 yen here and receive a candle. There are five colors of candles, each with a different wish.

②When you get a candle, take off your shoes and head to the Mitarai River. When you go into the Mitarai River, there are some candles, so let’s light your candle there.

③Proceed along the Mitarai River with a candle in hand. And dedicating candles to the lighthouse at the end of the Mitarai River.

Although it is just a little experience, you can feel the daily fatigue and stress are removed just by immersing your bare feet in a clean flow and offering a lantern. It is possible to participate in this from the morning, but it is better to visit in the evening because the atmosphere is better in the evening.


I still have lots of things about Kitano Tenman-gu shrine, so I’ll tell you more specific information on next post!!! I hope you guys enjoyed this post as much as I did!!


Add to your itinerary immediately Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto. ~Contents~ Part1: Kitano Tenmangu ~History&a[…]


・ Open: 5:00-18:00

・Admission Fee: –

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