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.
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.
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.
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.
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.