sugiwara no michizane

Hiyoke Tenmangu Shrine and the Fires of 1863

My first morning in Kyoto, a small shrine caught my eye on a walk between the hostel and the 7-Eleven. (Like any first-time tourist in Japan, I developed a serious 7-Eleven obsession/addiction.) This shrine is Hiyoke Tenmangu in the Teramachi district.  

Kyoto is full of small shrines. What caught my attention about this one in particular was the sign explaining its place in Bakumatsu history. This shrine survived the fires that followed the Kinmon no Hen in 1864: the same fires that are pictured in my sidebar image.

The text of the sign is as follows.

Hiyoke Tenmangu Shrine 

This shrine is believed to have originated in 1579, when an old Shinto priest entered Kyoto from Dazaifu in Fukuoka prefecture, Kyushu. In order to avoid a war in Kyushu, this priest carried out a statue of Sugiwara no Michizane, known as the god of learning, to enshrine it near Rokujo street.

In 1587, when the Daiunin Temple was established in Karasuma Nijo, this Shinto shrine was invited to be relocated on the grounds of this Buddhist temple in dedication to the tutelary deity of the area. In 1597, this shrine was moved to this place.

During the Hamaguri Gomon War in 1864, this was the only region to miraculously escape damage from fire. According to legend, this area was often saved from subsequent fires. Therefore, it now attracts the faithful who believe in the power of the deity to protect against fire as well as the powers to fulfill one’s wish to be educated 

- City of Kyoto

Hamaguri Gomon (Hamaguri Gate) War is another name for the Kinmon no Hen (Incident at the Forbidden Gate.) Chancing upon this shrine was for me a powerful experience of connection between past and present.