A Sessha (auxiliary shrine) surrounded by plum Blossom at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built over 1000 years ago in honor of Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and politician who represented the middle Heian period (794 AD – 1185 AD). This is the very first shrine in Japanese history where an actual person was enshrined as a deity. He is best known for being the “god of academics” and to this day, many students that pray for passing scores on examinations and persons who wish for the improvement of their abilities come here to visit.

The vast shrine grounds have many more things to see. It is known as one of the nation’s best places to view ume (plum) trees. When the flowers bloom, the Bai-en (ume garden) is open to the public. This is the first place in Kyoto where one can see flower blossoms, as early as February. In addition to the garden, the grounds of the shrine are covered with plum trees and are a joy to visit. Of course,  numerous photographers come here at this time of the year.