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Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

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Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Main Hall (Honden)

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is located in the northwest of the Kyoto city near the famous Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) Temple.  This shrine can be easily reached by bus from the JR Kyoto Station

Popularly known as the "Study Shrine", Kitano Tenmangu is popular with students.  Students who are about to take exams or just taken exams usually visit this shrine to get the blessings of the enshrined deity to do well in them.  When you visit the Shrine, you will see many students in all seasons come with their parents and pray at this shrine.

The reason it is popular with students is because, the enshrined deity is a Kami (god) of Learning in Japanese Culture, Michizane Sugawara (Sugawara-no-Michizane). 

Sugawara-no-Michizane, who is commonly referred to as Kitano-no-Tenjin-san, is a Heian era Scholar and statesman, in 10th century.

Portrait of Michizane Sugawara

Michizane Sugawara is the son of Sugawara no Koreyoshi (himself an Imperial Tutor and the principal of the University of Heian-era Kyoto) and one of the compilers of the Sendai jitsuroku (roughly translates as "Sendai Chronicles").  A historian and poet, Sugawara Michizane became famous for his knowledge of the Chinese classics.  In 877, he was appointed a professor of Chinese literature, in 866 he became governor of Sanuki province on Shikoku region, a position he held for four years.  In 899, Emperor Uda appointed him minister of the right (udaijin), but in 901 the Fujiwara, jealous of Michizane's influence in the court, accused him of plotting against Emperor Daigo, and he was sent to (or exiled to) govern Daifuzu (a remote part of now Fukuoka) in Kyushu.  He died there in 903, still proclaiming his innocence.  (Text Source: Japan Encyclopedia).

Upon his death he was deified as a great scholar and poet of Heian era and two Shrines were built to enshrine him.  One was his original place of governance (in Kyoto) and the second one was in Daifuzu where he spent later part of his life.  The shrine in Kyoto is called the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Seal

This shrine is first built in 947 and one of the most popular and crowded (mostly with students) shrines in Kyoto city and all of Japan throughout the year.  The Main Worship Hall (Honden) is a beautiful construction to watch, is built in 1600s  by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and is considered as a national treasure.  All the structures in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's including the Sankomon (the beautiful Main Gate) are considered national treasures.  Since the establishment, this shrine was often visited by regents, emperors, shoguns and samurais.  

The famous Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Treasure House is open to visitors once every month on the 25th.  This treasure house was built in 1927 and reflects both Western and Japanese culture.  There are many beautiful objects are in display here, dating back to the Heian era.  

Here is a video of the famous Kitano Tenmangu Shrine:

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