IF YOU’RE the seasoned traveler, chances are you have done a research on the best sites to visit in your next destination. For first timers, the list may hold the usual popular attractions, which could probably become favorites and worth the revisit on the next trip.
The excitement of travel lies on the unexpected. There are those charming sites that you discover along the way that makes the trip more memorable, the destination more appealing.
Take for example the trip I recently made to Kyoto. I love places of worship, thus my list consisted temples, which the ancient capital of Japan has no shortage of, Unesco Heritage Site-listed at that.
Although to visit all was an impossible task given five days in town, I knew I would have to see as much as I could in the five-day visit. As to the rest, it would give me a good reason to return to Kyoto.
Believe it or not, the first temple I happen to visit was not on the list. In fact, I never knew of it until it presented itself on the eastern end of the Nishiki Market, the first Kyoto attraction I visited.
The Shinto shrine of Nishiki Tenmangu may beckon visitors with its attractive glowing lanterns at the entrance. The location at the busy market can also be credited to the number of visitors it receives, but there are those who visit to seek academic success from the god of learning.
But even before you reach the last stall of the five-block length of the market, perhaps you may have seen the unusual torii gate with its pointed ends going through the cement walls of the retail stores flanking it. An odd location for a gate and yes, the shrine as well, but the history of temple will reveal why.
Nishiki Tenmangu’s beginnings date back to the year 1003 at Sugawara-in, the birthplace of Sugawara no Michizane, who was deified as the kami Tenjin.
Sugawara-in was renamed to Kanki-jin (Temple of Great Joy) after the death of Michizane, and was moved to Rokujo Kwara-in, the former villa of Minamoto no Toru. Three hundred years after, it was renamed to Kankiko-ji when the property was handed to the Yahata Zendo-ji Jishu sect Buddhist temple.
During the large-scale renovation of Kyoto in the Momoyama period (1583-1600) by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the shrine was moved to Shijo Street, central Kyoto, where one of the temple’s training dojo was located.
Because of the shinbutsubunri (the separation of Shinto from Buddhism) during the Meiji period, the temple was separated from the shrine. The Kanji-ki Temple was moved to Higashiyama and Nishiki Tenmangu, after 400 years, remained in its current location.
With the development, new buildings, with respect to the place of worship, were built around the shrine. Thus, explaining the torii gate’s unique feature in the Nishiki Market.
So if you need divine intervention on the matters of academics and business, this temple is your place.
If not, it’s still interesting to visit and check out its features like the stone cow, “the divine messengers of the deity” is what it represents. Pet the cow and make a wish, which might improve your chances of luck; and the pure spring water at the “temizuya" water pavilion. It flows up from 30 meters below ground and certified safe to drink.
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