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【Osaka Tenmangu Shrine】New Year’s Prayers and Passing Exams


After Christmas when the New Year holidays approach, what are you thinking about…?
New Year’s parties and drinking right? But, as is the tradition in Japan, you need to decide where to go for Hatsumode (New Year’s shrine visit).

So, I asked people living in Osaka for their Hatsumode recommendations and here they are.

1. Tenmangu Shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane

I am sure that many of you have visited a shrine with the name Tenmangu somewhere in Japan. All Tenmangu shrines have a common deity, Sugawara no Michizane, known as the “god of learning.”

So Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is recommended for students preparing for exams!

2. Osaka Tenmangu’s splendid parking lot entrance

osakatenmangu1I thought this gate was the entrance to the shrine, but it’s actually just the entrance to the parking lot. This gate is called Ebisu Gate. On the far left, you see the statue of cheerful Omiki Eebisu, holding a glass in his hand.
osakatenmangu2This is the authentic entrance called Omote-daimon. The size is totally different and the main shrine can be seen in the background.

Here is a brief history of Michizane’s life.

He was a child prodigy, composing waka poems at the age of five. In his youth, he became a doctor of letters, the highest rank of a scholar (monsatsu). He became a doctor of literature, the highest rank of a scholar. He was also a master archer, and was known for his  literary and military prowess.

He was an active politician, always working for the betterment of the people and the nation, and proposed the restoration of Sanuki Province and the suspension of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty (in consideration of the decline of the Tang Dynasty). He was later appointed Minister of the Right by Emperor Uda, but was accused of a crime he did not commit by Fujiwara no Tokihei, Minister of the Left, and was transferred to Dazaifu, the local government of Chikuzen Province in Kyushu.

Although he was forced to live a harsh life with little food or clothing, he ended his life praying for the peace of the imperial family and the nation. His innocence was later acknowledged by the Imperial Court, and when Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the head shrine of Tenmangu and Tenjinsha throughout Japan, was built he became its deity.

3. Michizane hates roosters

Let’s go back to Osaka Tenmangu Shrine. Looking up at the ceiling of the front gate, there is a large woven rope and a round object just above.
osakatenmangu3The wheel is a directional compass with the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. But rather than a rooster pointing west is a phoenix. There is a legend that when Michizane was leaving for Dazaifu, he had to leave Kyoto if a chicken crowed. It is said this is because Michizane hated roosters.osakatenmangu4There is also a phoenix sculpture on the right side. On the left side, there is a large rope hung over the gate. On a wooden plaque are the words “Dedication in commemoration of the 1,000th anniversary of the retirement of the god” and Izumo Tamatsukuri Tenmangu Shrine Bonzan Association.

According to legends, Michizane’s birthplace was either Nara, Kyoto, or Izumo in Shimane Prefecture.osakatenmangu5First, purify your hands at the Tezumisha. There is also an explanation of how to perform the ritual. If you only visit shrines on New Year’s Day and are always at a loss as to how to do this, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.
osakatenmangu6This is the Goshinsuisha. It is said to be open only on the 1st, 10th, and 25th of each month. It is said that in the Edo period, the well water was reputed to be delicious. And over time, this water became drinkable again. It must be extremely beneficial…will it be open on January 1?

4. Visit the shrine and get a red seal

osakatenmangu7Time to pray. Crowds of people wait patiently in long lines for New Year’s hatsumode.
osakatenmangu8osakatenmangu9A fortune, a good luck charm! But the main attraction are the red seals that you can get from shrines all over Japan.
osakatenmangu10I found myself in autumn…The key to the red seal at Osaka Temmangu Shrine is the plum blossoms! It is said that Michizane loved plum blossoms. According to legend, when Michizane was transferred to Fukuoka, the plum blossoms he loved in his garden flew to Dazaifu in pursuit of him.osakatenmangu11The red seal book is also decorated with plum blossoms. Now, let’s see what the omikuji looks like…osakatenmangu12It was neither paper-like nor stick-like, but the kind where you have to catch a ball. I had never seen this kind of omikuji before.

5. A New Year lucky charm

osakatenmangu13This coin-like object is a wishing ball. A short distance from the front gate of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is Hoshiai Pond and a bridge called Aiwabashi Bridge, which was a meeting place for lovers in the Edo period. It is said that if one crosses this bridge, they will be united.

In Hoshiai Pond, there is a target with a motif of Umebachi (plum bowl) pattern, which is associated with Sugawara no Michizane. Throw the wish ball from Aichibashi Bridge toward the target while making your wish.

There are six types of lucky charms
Red: Good marriage and love
Yellow: Prosperity in business
White: Health, recovery from illness
Blue: Entertainment, art, martial arts
Green: Academic virtue, success in entrance exams
Gold: Fulfillment of all wishes

It is said that your wish will come true if the wishing ball lands on the target of the color corresponding to your wish. Please try your luck, as it is meant to tell your fortune for the new year!

Now, let’s go around the grounds of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.osakatenmangu14If you want to pray, please come here. It will be crowded with people praying to pass their exams and to be free of bad luck.
osakatenmangu15This is a connecting corridor. If you can see through from the other side, it is auspicious. If you are a good photographer, you may be able to take a picture of a bright future! Please take your own quick shot so as not to bother other worshippers!

6. Passing through the Toryumon Gate to pray for success

osakatenmangu16This is the Toryumon (登 means climb, 竜 means dragon, 門 means gate). This word originally came from a Chinese legend that a carp that could climb up a rapid stream could become a dragon, and it is said to have come to mean a gateway to success in life.

Now, there are two gates in Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, the East Gate and the West Gate. There are a few days a year when you can pass through these two gates. However, it is not for everyone. If you purchase the “Passing the Exam Set,” which includes an amulet and an ema (votive picture tablet), a ticket for passing through the gate is included. Pass through the gate and pass the exam!  If you are planning to take any kind of examinations, you should definitely make a wish.

However, it is not possible to pass through the shrine during the Hatsumode season, so you will have to buy a “Passing the Examination” set and visit the shrine on another day when you can pass through the shrine. There is no need to make reservations, but that is why you should remember not to miss the days when you can visit the shrine and make sure to pay your respects.
osakatenmangu17This is the Toryumon to the other side. I wonder what you see while you are passing through.

7. Oshogun Shrine’s strange tale that inspired the construction of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine

Daishogun Shrine is within the grounds of Osaka Tenmangu. It is said that there is a mysterious event that happened to Michizane here. Before leaving for Dazaifu, Michizane made a visit to the Daishogun Shrine. One night, half a century later, seven pine trees suddenly grew in front of the shrine, and their treetops glowed every night. The legend goes that Emperor Murakami of the time ordered the construction of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine by imperial decree, saying, “This is  happening because of Michizane.” It is both frightening and fantastic.
osakatenmangu18This is the sazare stone.
The stone is in the lyrics of the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo, but probably you have never heard of this name before…

8. The best part of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine…

osakatenmangu19This cow.
osakatenmangu20Here’s another cow. It looks different, but they’re both cute.

There are various theories about the relationship between cows and Michizane, like “Michizane was born in the year of Cow,” or Michizane left a will that ordered “My coffin is to be dragged by a cow and where it stops will be my grave.” Shrines have animals as god’s messenger, and so there are cows in Tenmangu Shrine.

9. Tenmangu Shrine for success in exams

Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is definitely recommended for those who are preparing for their entrance examinations! Pray for success for Hatsumode, purchase a set of charms for passing an entrance examination, and then go through the gate to the shrine.
With this, you should be able to overcome any obstacle! (Although, it is a prerequisite that you are making daily efforts and that you are in good physical condition on the day of the examination.)

So be sure to include Osaka Tenmangu Shrine in your Hatsumode list.
There are still many more places to visit that we haven’t introduced here!

However, some of you may say, “I have already decided to visit other places for Hatsumode.”
In that case, we recommend you visit during the Tenjin Festival, which is held from late June through July 25! Tenjin Matsuri is one of the “Three Great Festivals of Japan” and during the festival, there are various events such as land processions, fireworks, boat races, gal-mikoshi and many more. You are sure to encounter a number of fascinating scenes that you will want to post on SNS!

Nearby Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is Tenman Tenjin Hanjoutei, where you can enjoy rakugo, manzai, and magic. This is a great sightseeing spot, where you can perform Hatsumode and laugh for the first time of the year! Please check the website in advance to see if there are any performances or seats left. Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street is the longest shopping arcade in Japan and is also worth a visit! There are many hotels near Tenmangu Shrine, so stay overnight and enjoy the show!

Name: Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
Address: 2 Chome-1-8 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0041
TEL: 06-6353-0025
Business Hours: 9:00-17:00
Access: Exit No.4 from Minamimorimachi Station on the Osaka Metro Sakaisuji Line/Tanimachi Line. Turn right at Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street and turn left at Futatsutsujime after 50 meters.
Exit No.3 at JR Tozai Line Osaka Tenmangu Station (Tozai Line Access Building) and turn left at Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, then turn left at Futatsutsujime after 50 meters.

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Introduction of writer

I live in Chiba near Tokyo. I am around 40 years old. I work for cats and Sake (alcohol) . I go to anywhere if alcole is there.