Kitano Tenmangu Shrine 北野天満宮
Pray for academic success at this ancient shrine
Tucked away in the northwest of Kyoto near the famous Golden Pavilion, Kitano Tenmangu is one of the city's oldest and most important shrines.
How to Get There
Kitano Tenmangu is best accessed by bus.
From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City bus 5O or 101 and get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae bus stop.
A students' sanctuary
The god of knowledge and calligraphy—the acclaimed Japanese scholar Sugawara no Michizane—has guarded this shrine since its founding in 947. It is thus popular with local students, who visit to ask the god for good grades and exam results.
The main entrance is flanked by two bronze cows. Legend has it that if you rub them, you will have academic success. Not surprisingly, their heads and backs have been rubbed until they're shiny and golden.
Plum blossoms in February
Besides its array of meticulously decorated buildings, Kitano Tenmangu is known for its ume (plum tree) grove that blooms from late February and throughout March. Although Japan is most famous for its cherry blossoms, plum blossoms are equally exquisite and draw a more local crowd.
Kyoto's best flea market
Once a month on the 25th, the Tenjin-san flea market is held on the streets surrounding the shrine from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Get there early to score the best deals from an array of local and specialized items including vintage kimono and antiques.