Yushima Tenmangu shrine & Plum Festival

Yushima Tenmangu is commonly called Yushima Ten-jin. “Ten-jin” means God of Thunder. This shrine is famous for God of Academics, attracting many students who pray for passing the entrance examinations.

It is believed that any part of bull statue which people touched will be cured. So many touch its head. 

Enshrines a first actual person to be worshipped as a deity.

Yushima-Tenmangu enshrines Sugawara no Michizane.  He is a historical figure who was a talented scholar serving for the Emperor in the middle Heian period (794 AD–1185 AD). He was demoted and dispelled through a conspiracy by his rival of the Fujiwara Clan but never developed the hatred for those who had exiled him. After his death, he was worshipped as a God of Thunder and Agriculture to calm down the unstable society of Kyoto, the capital at the time. He was the first in Japanese history for an actual person to be enshrined as a deity. He is now more famous as a God of Academics because he is said to have been a kind of genius.

Bull, Ema and plum trees are must for Tenmangu shrines.

There are as many as 12,000 Tenmangu shrines in Japan. All Tenmangu shrines enshrine Sugawara no Michizane. Tenmangu shrines have some special figures. Bull statues, spectacular amount of votive tablets called Ema and plum trees.

So what is Ema?

Ema are wooden votive picture tablets which are found at most shrines. People write their wishes and dreams on the back of “Ema” and hang them in the precincts of Shrines. →more details for Ema.

Yushima-tenmangu shrine gives different designed Ema for the certain period. Its unique design is picture of Sugawara no Michizane riding on a bull. Bull is considered as a messenger of Tenjin-sama(God of Thunder), because bull had close relationship with Michizane’s life.

As Tenmangu shrines are popular for leaners, spectacular amount of Ema can be seen in the precincts especially when the examination season in Japan, all written such as “I’ll pass the exam!”  “May for all pass the exams.”  “May my students pass the exams.”  Pass, pass, pass,,,


Mishizane’s lifelong affection to plum trees.

Another feature of Tenmangu is plum trees. Most Tenmangu shrines have beautiful plum trees. It is reflecting Michizane’s lifelong affection and regard for the trees and their blossoms. He is known to have composed cerebrated Waka(Japanese short) poem related to plum trees.

Ume-matsuri” Plum Festival in February

Each year from the beginning of February to the beginning of March, Plum(Japanese Apricot) Festival is held in Yushima-Tenmangu shrine. Various kinds of food stalls can be enjoyed in the precinct. On weekends during this period, they have special events such as Japanese traditional dance, Wadaiko(Japanese drum) play, serving Japanese powered green tea outdoor and so on.

Night viewing of plum blossoms

During Plum Festival season, they light up plum trees everyday. It is crowded by the visitors in plum season but less people visit after sunset. It is also nice to enjoy plum trees quietly at night. (Until 8:00 PM in 2018).


My tips !

It gets cold after sunset even when it is warm in daytime in February. Better to take warm cloth with you to enjoy night viewing of plum blossoms.


 Related informations

For your interest in Tenmangu shrines or Sugawara no Michizane, below informations are available. As he was expelled from Kyoto to Fukuoka, there are 2 head Tenmangu shrines.

Yushima Tenmangu official website. —–Tokyo’s popular Tenmangu shrine.
Kitano Tenmangu official website. —–The head Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto.
Dazaifu Tenmang official website. ——The head shrine built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane in Fukuoka where he had been expelled and passed away.

Author Profile

A national government licensed tour guide in English loves to introduce Japanese life with unique photos📸. Mainly Tokyo🇯🇵 and surroundings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *