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Gigantic Ema in Kitano Tenmangu

Kitano Tenmangu (北野天満宮) is the headquarters of many Temnangu shrines across Japan, and was built in honor of Sugawara no Michizane (菅原道真), a scholar and politician who represented the middle Heian (平安) period. Michizane is also symbolized as a god of learning here and worshiped by many visitors who are enthusiastically pursuing their studies. When I was a student, I often visited this shrine as the exam got close and made fervent prayers.

On the premises, there are many statues of cows that are said to be the messengers from the god. People say you’ll be smart if you pat the cow’s head and then your head. Since the cows’ heads have been repeatedly rubbed by a countless number of visitors, their heads are all very smooth and shiny now.

The shrine was busy with preparation for the coming New Year. As shown in the picture below, a gigantic Ema (絵馬, votive tablet) with a painting of a dog which is the symbol of the next year, was raised over the gate.

The New Year’s Day is coming soon.

Akane Kibune
Kyoto Expert Certification 1st Grade



Kitano Tenmangu, Kyoto city bus and Keifuku line



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