Having started our second day here in the culturally rich city of Kyoto with a visit to Nijo Castle, Ryan and I then headed off on our walking tour to the next big sight – the famed Golden Pavilion.
Getting there meant of course quite a long walk through what felt like an older part of the city – i.e. very narrow streets and absolute chaos in terms of overhead power lines!
There were quite a few interesting buildings that we stumbled across on our way, and this being of course Kyoto, pretty soon we wandered into something pretty cool by complete accident – the Kitano Tenmangu Shinto shrine complex.
The Kitano Tenmangu Shinto shrine is one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that are dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician who was unfairly exiled by his political rivals. A number of disasters were attributed to Michizane’s vengeful spirit after his death in exile, and these shrines were built to appease him.
Sugawara Michizane is associated with Tenjin, the kami (“Shinto god”) of education. Consequently, many students visit Kitano Tenmangu to pray for success in their studies. The shrine can become especially crowded with students during exam times and school trip seasons.
Also of interest were the many cow/bull statues along the pathway to the shrine, the significance of which I’m not entirely sure of. (It was drizzling slightly, meaning that I wasn’t unnecessarily whipping my phone out for translations or Google Searches any more!)
We didn’t stick around for too long in the shrine complex, but nevertheless enjoyed the ornate architecture and beautiful structures and stone sculptures.