The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) is a shrine built in the northwest section of Kyoto over 1000 years ago. The shrine was built during 947AD by the emperor of the time in honor of Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and politician who represented the middle Heian period (794 AD – 1185 AD), as well as for the peace of the nation. Ever since, the imperial family, nobles, samurais and commoners alike all visit the shrine to worship.
The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the very first shrine in Japanese history where an actual person was enshrined as a deity. He is known as the “god of agriculture,” “god of honesty and sincerity,” “god of dispelling false accusations” and “god of performing arts.” However, he is best known for being the “god of academics.” Sugawara no Michizane is a historical figure who read poems at the age of five and wrote Chinese poems at the age of 11. His superior talent is what led to the dissemination of the “Tenjin faith” throughout Japan. There are as many as 12,000 shrines that are dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane in Japan, but the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the origin and the main shrine. To this day, many students that pray for passing scores on examinations and persons who wish for the improvement of their abilities come here to visit.