Kitano Tenmangu Shrine - Kyoto

Located at Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) is one of the most important of the several hundred shrines across Japan that are dedicated to Sugawara no Michazane who was known as a great scholar, poet, and politician. He is associated with Tenjin who is a Shinto god of education.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮)

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine History

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in 947 to appease the angry spirit of Sugawara no Michazane whose death in exile was said to have brought drought and plagues to Japan. Years after its construction, the shrine became an object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers, called heihaku, to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan in the belief that they'd get the message across. In 991, Emperor Ichijo added three more shrines to the list. This includes Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Sugawara no Michizane

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was officially designated as one of the Kanpei-chusha which lasted from 1871 to 1946. This means, that it stood in the second rank of government-supported shrines. In 1952, the outdoor tea ceremony was started as part of the big festival that marks the 1050th death anniversary of Michizane. This ceremony can still be seen in the present during the Plum Blossom Festival which is held every February 25. Speaking of plum blossoms, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's grounds are filled with red and white ume or plum blossom. These are said to be Michizane's favorite tree. 

Aside from the plum trees here are other things to see in this historic shrine:

Kitano Tenmangu Main Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Romon Gate

Sankomon Gate

Homutsuden (Treasure Hall)

Kitano Tenmangu ema display place


Nomi-Sukune Jinja Shrine

Shinmei-sha Shrine

The cow of Baiko-sui (Chozu-sha)

Presently, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is a very popular shrine for students. They often visit to pray for success in exams because they believe that the deity enshrined here was a man of literature and knowledge. 

Check out those students availing of the blessed school materials

The students and visitors take turns shaking the rope to rattle the bell at the end of it 

My family and I got to visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine on the 6th day of our 2018 Japan Trip. We got to visit it thanks to our good friend Gil who accompanied us and got me excited to visit other must-see destinations that are not on my itinerary. During our visit, there was a large crowd of students visiting the shrine. I noticed that there were also some "booths" set up inside the shrine vicinity offering to bless pens and other school-related items of the students. There were also some "booths" that sold blessed items.  Well. I guess there's a big exam coming up. 

My wife posing in front of the Munukata-sha Shrine

Anyway, we spent quite some time in this shrine, as it was noontime and we wanted to rest a bit after exploring two big temple complexes prior to this visit. We also had lunch here. Special thanks to Gil for the delicious meal that she brought  After lunch Gil had to go ahead as she was needed in the school of her son. My family and I continued on to our next destination afterward. 

Team Nicerio explores Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Passed one of the stone torii on our way out

Overall, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is one of those shrines that you should visit when you are in Kyoto City. Aside from having free admission, you'd also fall in love with the nature surrounding it. If you visit sometime around February, you'd also get the chance to see the beautiful Plum blossom too. Aside from that, you could even attend the festival and flea market held every 25th of February.

Kitano Tenmangu Admission Fee:

It is FREE to enter and explore Kitano Tenmangu Shrine grounds. However, you can leave donations in the coin boxes in front of the main shrine and sub-shrines.

Kitano Tenmangu Opening Hours:

Kitano Tenmangu is open from 6:30 AM to 5PM every day.

Why visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine?

If you believe in divine interventions and luck then visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine before you take your exam. Who knows you might pass the exam (but make sure to study too). 

Getting to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine:

From Kyoto Station,
 ride the Kyoto City Bus number 50 or 101. It will bring you directly to the shrine.

Another option during rush hours is to take the Karasuma Subway Line to Imadegawa Station and catch the 102 or 203 bus to the shrine. In either case, get off at the Kitano Tenmangumae bus stop. 

Overall ratings


  1. It is so pretty and green out there. It also doesn't hurt to have a free activity!

    1. I agree Erin. Kitano Tenmangu shrine really has a great natural environment.

  2. Very interesting shrines nice article!

  3. Such a fun read! Thank you!

  4. I've always wanted to go to Japan, and this will be the place I would check out.

    1. I would love to see photos of you in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. =)

  5. Wow! I love to visit Japan too. Thank you for sharing this comprehensive review about the place. Such a lovely place.

  6. Awesome the pictures. Japan has a lot of beautiful places and shrine indeed!

    1. That's true Maysz. This is just in Kyoto. I'm excited to visit other prefectures and cities to check out what they have to offer.

  7. Wow this looks so beautiful, and it is definitely going on my list of places to visit while being in Japan, I might just go there now seeing as there is an exam coming up and I might need a few blessed pens and what not. Joking aside, it's nice to see the old with the modern, who would have guessed that a temple from 900 hundreds is still standing to this day.

    1. That's true Matija. You might be surprised that this shrine is quite young compared to some which are 1000+ years old.

  8. Wow! My dream is to see this kind of tempe in Japan! Do you think 1 day is enough to see that ?

    1. Hello. For this shrine, one day is more than enough but Kyoto City... a month won't be enough.

  9. Such a great post... Love the history of the shrines and Japan in general! Also love the pictures you captured... Definitely adding to my travel list!!

    1. Thank you so much Veronica. =) Hope you get to visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

  10. I love learning about anything that is Japan-related! I haven't visited yet, but ever since high school I was fascinated by their culture. (My degree paper was on Tradition and Modernity in Japan :) )
    And the photos you took are amazing!

    1. Wow! I'm happy to hear from a lover of anything Japan. Thank you for visiting my blog. =)

  11. We will surely visit this when we visit Japan.


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