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Kitano tenmangu, Plum trees

2014/02/09

s-北野天満宮・本殿と紅梅.jpgKitano Tenmangu Shrine ( Kitano Tenmangū) is one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that are dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician who was unfairly exiled by his political rivals. A number of disasters were attributed to Michizane’s vengeful spirit after his death in exile, and these shrines were built to appease him.

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Sugawara Michizane is associated with Tenjin, the kami(“Shinto god”) of education. Consequently, many students visit Kitano Tenmangu to pray for success in their studies. The shrine can become especially crowded with students during exam times and school trip seasons.

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Michizane loved plum trees, and one tree, called tobiume or flying plum tree, is sa

id to have followed him from Kyoto to his exile in Kyushu. Because of this, a plum tree can always be found standing in front of the offering hall of Tenmangu shrines.

In addition to the tobiume tree, Kitano Tenmangu features an entire grove of nearly 2000 trees that bloom from February to March. The shrine hosts a special tea ceremony, called Baikasai, in this plum grove every February 25th, attended by maiko and geiko of the nearby Kami-shichiken geiko district.

Last but not least, a flea market is held on the shrine grounds and surrounding streets on the 25th of every month. Hundreds of vendors selling plants, antiques, tools, toys and crafts are joined by many food stands selling festival food such as yakisoba, karaage and takoyaki

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