a strange torii gate in downtown
Have you ever seen such a torii (a traditional gate of a Japanese Shinto shrine)? The both sides are stuck into the walls! It is strange, but what is stranger is that it seems people rarely notice it.
Actually it is the gate of Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine. It is in the downtown area of Kyoto, and there is a lot to see around here. I think that is why people are not so interested in the torii gate. The shrine is located just at the end of Nishiki Market. When you go to the market, you should visit the shrine, too. There are eye-catching chōchin (hanging lanterns) at the entrance, so you’ll find the shrine with ease.
What is Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine like?
Soon after entering the shrine, you’ll see the chozuya (a place to wash hands) on your right, in front of the honden (the main building of the shrine). The water of the chozuya is safe enough to drink. It is so pure and tasty that some visitors come early in the morning and take it home. Anyone is allowed to take it home at any time.
The shrine is dedicated to a scholar, poet and politician named Sugawara no Michizane. He was very smart, so after his death, he came to be enshrined as a deity of learning. Cows are thought to be his messengers, so there is a cow statue in the shrine. It is believed that you will be smarter by rubbing its head.
Come and Meet shishi in the shrine
I found shishi (an imaginary creature) fixed to the honden. You can often find shishi in Shinto shrines because they are believed to ward off evil spirits. Shishi is sometimes called a “Japanese lion” in English. Do you think it looks like a lion?
You can draw a random fortune there. Look at the pictures. One of them is another type of shishi. Approach the shishi, and the shishi will start to dance. Put coins into the box, and the shishi will bring you a fortune slip. How unique it is!
Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine is known as a shrine of learning. It can be a special experience to visit it, especially when you are learning something difficult.
537 Nakano-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Tel: +81 75-231-5732
URL: http://nishikitenmangu.or.jp/ (Japanese)
8:00 a.m.―8:30 p.m.