Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine (Kyoto)

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.

the odd torii gate
the odd torii gate

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.

the entrance of Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine
the entrance of Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine


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 honden and the chozuya
the honden and the chozuya

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.

the bull statue
the cow statue


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?

the shishi
the shishi


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!

the random fortune
the shishi random fortune teller

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.

【Nishiki Tenmangu】
537 Nakano-cho, Nakagyo-kuKyoto City, Kyoto 
Tel: +81 75-231-5732
URL: (Japanese)
8:00 a.m.―8:30 p.m.