The honden, or main building.
|Location||Hakuraku-chō, Kamigyō-ku, Kyoto|
|Deity||Sugawara no Michizane|
|Festival||Reitaisai (August 4th)|
|Glossary of Shinto|
The shrine was first built in 947 to appease the angry spirit of bureaucrat, scholar and poet Sugawara no Michizane, who had been exiled as a result of political maneuvers of his enemies in the Fujiwara clan.
The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers be sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These messenger, called heihaku, were initially presented to 16 shrines; and in 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami's list — including Kitano.
The shrine was dedicated to Michizane; and in 986, the scholar-bureaucrat was deified and the title of "Tenjin" was conferred.
The grounds are filled with Michizane's favorite tree, the red and white ume or plum blossom, and when they blossom the shrine is often very crowded. The Plum Blossom Festival (梅花祭, baikasai) is held on February 25, coinciding with the monthly market. An open-air tea ceremony (野点, nodate) is hosted by geiko and apprentice maiko from the nearby Kamishichiken district, where tea and wagashi are served to 3,000 guests by geisha and maiko. The plum festival has been held on the same day every year for about 900 years to mark the death of Michizane. The outdoor tea ceremony dates back to 1952. In that year, a big festival was held to mark the 1,050th anniversary of Michizane's death, based on the historic Kitano Ochakai tea ceremony hosted at the shrine by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Kitano Tenmangū is popular with students praying for success in exams because the deity was in his life a man of literature and knowledge. On the 25th of every month, the shrine hosts a flea market. Together with the similar festival at Tō-ji, a temple in the same city, they inspired the Kyoto proverb, "Fair weather at the Tōji market means rainy weather at the Tenjin market," calling to mind Kyoto's fickle weather.
- List of Shinto shrines
- Twenty-Two Shrines
- List of National Treasures of Japan (shrines)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings)
- Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines
- Three Great Tenjin Shrines
- Richard, Ponsonby-Fane. (1964) Visiting Famous Shrines in Japan, pp. 194-220.
- Breen, John et al. (2000). Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami, pp. 74-75.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1962). Studies in Shinto and Shrines, pp. 116-117.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Studies in Shrines, p. 118.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, pp. 126.
- Baika-sai (Plum Festival) Archived 2011-01-20 at the Wayback Machine., Kyoto Travel Guide
- Open-Air Tea Ceremony with the Scent of Plum Blossoms: Plum Blossom Festival at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine, Kyoto Shimbun, 2007.2.25
- Breen, John and Mark Teeuwen. (2000). Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2363-4
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1962). Studies in Shinto and Shrines. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 399449
- ____________. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
- ____________. (1964). Visiting Famous Shrines in Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby-Fane Memorial Society. OCLC 1030156
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