Kitano Tenmangu 北野天満宮
Facade of Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto.
The official SUGAWARA no Michizane whose exile and disasters that followed were the basis of Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto.
Ward off bad luck
A cow, examinations successfully completed and a thousand-year-old curse... these seemingly dissimilar elements come together under the aegis of Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), in honor of whom the Kitano Tenmangu Sanctuary in Kyoto was founded.
With the approach of the exam periods, the sanctuary is filled with school uniforms and unusual looking students. The porticos with votive plaques are inundated with wishes for academic success and crowds of young people come to caress the heads of statues of oxen that punctuate the site, so that their own heads will remain full of knowledg.
This is one of the most important and oldest sancutaries of the ancient capital. Its founding is related to the high official Sugawara no Michizane, unjustly condemned to exile until his death in 903, on an island in southern Japan. Then followed a series of calamities and disasters that befell the capital, fires, earthquakes, devastating storms and mysterious accidents, the angry spirit of Michizane seemed to take it out on Kyoto. Thus, in 947 the Kitano Tenmangu was built to appease the anger of the exiled official. Sugawara no Michizane became the emblem of knowledge, as the man was a very knowledgeable scholar.
Wandering around the complex is especially nice in early spring, when the plum trees are in blossom. The emblematic trees of Kitano Tenmangu turn the site into an ocean of vibrant colors. Every month, a flea market is held within the walls of the sanctuary, it is the perfect time for a beautiful walk highlighted with some good bargains!