NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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桐生天満宮 Kiryu-tenman-guu Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine

Jp En

Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine in Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine founded during the reign of Emperor Keiko (reigned 71-130) as Isobe Myojin Shrine. The enshrined deities are Amenohohi no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane. Later in the Kan'o era (around 1350), it was relocated to the present place, where the deity of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto was transferred, and renamed Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was designated as the oratory of the Tokugawa family and the textile fair was regularly held in the precinct.

The shrine building was constructed in 1793. As is called “the shrine on the rock,” its Honden (the main hall) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) stand on the rock stratum. All the main buildings of the shrine (Honden, Heiden and Haiden) are collectively designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property “Shaden (shrine buildings) of Kiryu Tenmangu” in that the best techniques in architecture decoration of the time were gathered in those buildings.
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うそ替え Uso-gae Uso-gae

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Uso-gae is one of the Shinto rituals practiced on January 7th every year at Dazaifu Tenman-guu Shrine in Zaifu, Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
It is based on a homonymous word play of “鷽” (pronounced uso, meaning a bullfinch bird) and “嘘” (pronounced also uso, meaning a lie). Attendees to the ritual bring their own small wooden bullfinch.  They gather inside a sacred area of the shrine enclosed by straw festoons and exchange their wooden birds with each other saying “Let’s change, Let’s change”.
It is believed that, by doing so, people can cleanse themselves of all the lies they made unintentionally or circumstances forced them to make, and ask the deified spirit of Sugawara Michizane for forgiveness and to be given good fortune to start a new year.  
The exchanged wooden bullfinch is later enshrined in the household Shinto altar or a sacred alcove in the house to receive the year’s good fortune.
Uso-gae is a Shinto ritual similar to the concept of repenting in Christianity.
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太宰府天満宮 Dazaifu-tenmanguu Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine

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The renowned Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine is located in Saifu, Daizaifu-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, and is famous for enshrining the deity of Sugawara no Michizane (a scholar, poet and politician of the Heian period). The shrine is also known for possessing the national treasure, 'Kanen Kandai Sanju-ichi' ('The Thirty-first Writing of the Kanen').

Michizane was exiled to this land following false accusations by the Fujiwara family and died here in 903. However, the ox-cart carrying Michizane's body back to the city for a formal burial, for some unknown reason broke down on the way and couldn't be moved. Considering this bizarre happening as Michizane's last wish, his body was not sent to the city, and instead buried in a grave on this land.

After Michizane's death, Kyoto experienced many disastrous plagues and abnormal weather; people feared this was Michizane's curse. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on Michizane's grave to alleviate and break the curse. Since then, Michizane has been recognized as an excellent and brilliant scholar in life, and then posthumously enshrined as the God of Scholarship and Knowledge.

Many people visit the shrine today, and still venerate Michizane as a god. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine, along with Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine in Hofu, are considered the San-Tenjin (The Three Great Gods of the Heavens).
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大阪天満宮 Osaka-Tenmanguu Osaka Tenmangu Shrine

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The origin of the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine dates back to a political figure Sugawara Michizane from the mid-Heian period. In 901, Fujiwara Tokihira, a political opponent secured the demoting of Michizane to Dazai Prefecture. On his way to Dazai, he visited Taishogun Shrine, which still exists.
   At Michizane's death, a series of ominous events occurred, such as plague, the death of a prince, and a bolt of thunder striking Seiryo-den (the emperor's residence). The Imperial Court, believing these events to be a curse from Michizane, reinstated his honor.
   A strange story spread in Kyoto that, in 949, seven pine trees suddenly appeared at Taishogun Shrine and gave off an unusual light. The Murakami Emperor heard this story and decided to build a Tenmangu shrine dedicated to Michizane. This is the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.
   The present main building was rebuilt in 1843 in Gongen-style, and has a late-Edo spirit. The tasteful paintings on the sliding doors are by Michihiko Tsubata or Kochu Ueda. These commemorate the shrine's 1,025th anniversary in 1927.
   Every year on the 24th July, the shrine holds the Tenjin Festival, one of Japan's three major festivals and one of Osaka's three major summer festivals.
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道明寺天満宮 Doumyouji-Tenmangu Domyoji Tenmangu Shrine

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Domyoji Tenmangu Shrine originates in Haji Shrine that Haji Tribe built in 3 A.D. to enshrine their ancestor Amenohohinomikoto (the son of Amaterasu Omikami, the goddess of the sun). After Buddhism was introduce into Japan, Prince Shotoku decided to build a magnificent temple composed of the five-story stupa and seven halls on the land with an area of 320 m east and west and 640 m north and south, which Haji Yashima donated. The temple was named Haji Temple and later it was assumed the new name of Domyoji by Sugawara no Michizane (enshrined as a deity of study). The shrine possesses a lot of treasures including 6 National treasures, 2 Important National Properties, and 1 Prefectural Cultural Property. The halls were burnt down in the battles to capture Takaya Castle during the Warring States period, however the treasures were unaffected. Later the temple was given sanctuary to by Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and the Tokugawa Shogunate and designated as a vermilion-seal certificate land. Now people visit to pray for academic achievement, safe delivery, safe driving and so on. In 2002, “The 1100th Year Anniversary Festival” in memory of Sugawara no Michizane was held.
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