Yushima Tenjin Shrine

Tokyo’s most famous shrine of scholars is the Yushima Tenjin (or Yushima Tenmangu) Shrine. This ancient Shinto shrine was founded in 458 AD for the worship of the god Ameno-tajikaraono-mikoto.  Later in 1355, the spirit of the ninth century scholar Sugawara Michizane was also enshrined there.

The present form of the shrine dates from 1478 when it was rebuilt by the warrior Ohta Dokan.  Since then, many scholars and men of letters including Hayashi Doshun and Arai Hakuseki, Confucian scholars in Edo period, have worshiped this shrine.

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Yushima Tenjin is built in the Shaden style of architecture entirely from Japanese cedar.  It is a picturesque, almost folksy-looking shrine with a contented, homely feel, and is distinguished by the huge bundles of small wooden votive tablets.

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Many students visit this shrine to express their reverence to the enshrined spirit as Kami of Learning. Especially in the season of school entrance examinations, young students visit to pray for the success of passing examinations, presenting votive tablets called Ema.

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In February and March, the Yushima Tenjin Ume Matsuri (Japanese Apricot Blossom Festival) is held.  For entertainment is a Taiko drum performance by a local group.  And as typical of most Japanese festivals, you will find many booths selling food, drinks and souvenirs.

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Of course, the festival attracts many visitors who enjoy the Ume (Japanese apricot or plum) blossoms.  On a recommendation by a colleague at work, we visited this shrine a few weeks ago in early February, but the Ume was not in full bloom yet.

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6 thoughts on “Yushima Tenjin Shrine

  1. tokyo5,

    > Did you go there this past weekend?

    We went two weekends ago on a cold and windy Sunday, February 8, a week after your visit. Yes, I had forgotten that you also went recently from your blog post.

    > BTW, your new header’s photo is from 日光 (Nikko), isn’t it? Did you go there recently?

    Yes and yes, we spent the Valentine’s weekend in Nikko. It was a great trip, took lots of pictures and it will probably take me a while to blog about it (I’m not a fast as you!)

    Thanks again for commenting.

  2. My very first full day in Japan was spent in Nikko. How nostalgic. Ha ha. (Great article too, btw. Just wanted to comment on the comments, I suppose.) Soc’d. 😉

  3. @Deas,

    Your comments are always welcome and most appreciated!

    We had a great overnight visit to Nikko, took a lot of pictures (sorting through them) and also going to write several blog posts about our visit soon (I hope) ^-^

  4. Pingback: Tokyo Megacity by Donald Richie | Konnichiwa

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