New Year Prayers at Kitano-Tenmangū Shrine

Happy 人日 (ren ri)! In our Chinese customs, 人日 (People’s Day), the 7th Day of our Lunar New Year, was the day human beings were created. But this is a post again on my New Year spent in Japan as I’ve learnt so many interesting cultural differences in the way we spend our New Years that I want to share. Why do I say again? Those who have been watching my Youtube Channel will know I just posted a video about 御節料理 (Osechi Ryori – Japanese traditional New Year cuisine) shopping in Kyoto just before Chinese New year. Do check out the vlog below and follow my channel for more posts on Japan! ❤

During the first few days of new year, it is customary for Japanese to visit shrines and temples to pray for a good year ahead, also known as “hatsumode“, and bae’s parents, knowing that is it my first time experiencing New Year in Japan, brought me to one of the better known shrines in Kyoto, Kitano-Tenmangū Shrine (北野天満宮), The God of Study Shrine. There are many other God of Study shrines, but Kitano-Tenmangū is the first and the main God of study shrine, dedicated to poet and literary scholar, Sugawara no Michizane, who was deified after his death. Many students flock to this temple to pray for good results in examinations, as well as people who seek to enhance their abilities.

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I love the intricate cravings on the lamp.

On New Year, there is also a flea market within the shrine grounds.  So needless to say, the temple was bustling with throngs of crowd.

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I performed the purification ritual (“Misogi”) before praying, a complex ritual that I constantly need guidance for.
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This is the sheer number of people waiting for their turn to throw some coins in the box at the front of the altar.

There are also ox statues around the temple, and it is believed that that if you touch the head of the statue before touching your own, your brain will be revitalized and enlightened. If you touch other parts of the ox’s body, any illnesses on the particular area you touch will be healed.

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Hoping to develop my brain a bit more.

After praying, usually people would head to get their omikuji (fortunes written on strips of paper), but there was such a long queue for it, so we headed to the flea market instead. There were so many people that it was quite hard to get a good picture, but there were so many interesting stalls I just wish I could show you more. From food to toys to old school games, it is like a mini carnival.

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Boy learning to cook and sell okonomiyaki on chopsticks knowns as hashimaki (はしまき)
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Bae bought this candied apple  (りんご飴 – ringo ame) for me as I was eyeing a girl snacking on it. A very interesting combination. Would have been better if the apple was sweeter though.

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Japanese girls all seem to love Duffy.
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Old school game : fishing the prize from water.
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Old school game : shooting the prize. Look at the little boy going at it!

So this was my first New Year in Japan! Of course not missing their very important New Year meal which they eat throughout the day, the beautifully set Osechi Ryori, which his family paired with sushi for our mini-party.

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During the plum blossom festival on February 25, the shrine is also said to be remarkably beautiful, in fact, one of the best places to view the plum blossoms in Japan. And, the flea market is also open on the 25th of every month, so do visit this lovely place when you are in Kyoto!

Website : http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Getting there : City Bus (5O) or (101) from JR Kyoto Station; (203)Demachiyanagi Station to Kitano Tenmangu-mae

 

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My life now. Living in Japan. Traveling in Japan. Check out my video travels on my Youtube channel!

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