If you’re a student facing an exam, this would be a good shrine to visit. It’s called Yushima Tenjin, and it honours Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and politician in Kyoto in the Heian Period (that’s him on the white ox).

Sugawara was betrayed by a rival and exiled to Kyushu in 901. After Sugawara’s death, Kyoto was hit by various calamities, from droughts to floods, all attributed to his angry spirit. The imperial court deified him as Tenjin-sama, the kami of scholarship, in an effort to calm him down. It worked. Today there are approximately 14 000 Tenjin shrines in Japan.

Yushima Tenjin is very popular, since it’s close to the top-rated University of Tokyo. Thousands of young people pray at the shrine for academic success. (See the kanji  東京大学 in the closeup shot of the ema? That’s a request for success in the entrance exam of Tōkyō Daigaku or Tokyo University.)

This post is for @ifrainbowsweredark, @paintyouwings182 and all other students who are writing exams this month. May Tenjin-sama be kind to you.


Shrine detail at Yushima Tenjin. The ema depicts the year of the monkey, and the golden chrysanthemum indicates that the shrine has links to the imperial family. Yushima Tenjin enshrines Sugawara no Michizane (菅原道真), known as the god of scholars, and is very popular among students who come here to pray for success in school and university entrance exams.

Headcanon 06;

Omikami and Sugawara never physically met. Because Omikami was unable to leave the Celestial Plain during Ushiwaka’s trial (because of Amaterasu and Shiranui wanting so badly to stay and defend the Tribesman), Omikami could only visit Michizane in his dreams.

It started as Sugawara praying to the Gods for assistance after Queen Himiko died. Omikami visited him because the God and Goddess were distracted, and over the nine months of Ushiwaka’s trial, they slowly fell in love. Part of Sugawara’s exile was because he would show up disheveled and late to meetings because he would spend every moment he could in his dreams with Omikami.

Likewise, Omikami would show up to the trials late and scatterbrained, and have trouble letting Shiranui or Amaterasu take over because he was thinking of Sugawara. This is why Ushiwaka dislikes the Deity. The Tribesman thinks he didn’t really care enough about him to put forth the proper effort to defend him during his trial.

Amaterasu and Shiranui forced Omikami away during the last month of the trial, when Sugawara needed him most. By the time the trials were over and Omikami was allowed to return… Michizane had passed away.


Baikasai 2014 - part 1

As the plum blossoms appear in Kyoto, maiko and geiko of Kamishichiken gather at an open air festival to serve macha (green tea) to guests. Baikasai has a 900 years of tradition to honour the death of Sugawara Michizane, a patron of learning.

1. Maiko Umechie gently serving the tea cup

2. Maiko Ichitomo with antique golden teapot

3. Geiko Naosome observing her fellow senior geiko sister

4., 5. Geiko Umeshizu as a host of the tea ceremony

6. Geiko Naohiro and Umeshizu

7. Second-year-maiko Katsuna

8. Maiko Katsuna and famous geiko Umeha

9. To this dense green tea, mochi sweets are served

10. Geiko Ichimomo, Naohiro, maiko Katsuna and geiko Naosuzu


On May 5-6, Kameido Tenjin Shrine has its annual Fuji Matsuri (wisteria festival).  The shrine, dating back to 1646, was one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Edo and is a very popular destination still with modern Tokyoites because of its amazing array of plum blossoms and drooping fuji (wisteria) flowers. From late February through the second week of March is when the plum trees start to bloom and from late April through early May, the wisteria are in bloom.  Kameido Tenjin enshrines Sugawara no Michizane, a courtier from ancient times, who has been deified as the Shinto god of education.  Text and photography by Rekishi no Tabi on Flickr