First signs of Spring


I have to confess I have a weak spot for plum blossom. For me as soon as I can see this pink flower, I know I don’t need to suffer much longer with the cold weather and Spring is not that far anymore. This year I could admire this very early sign of Spring at the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine. The origin of this shrine goes back to 949, when the present shrine was built in 1845 (previously many times destroyed by fire). Actually at Tenmangu Michizane Sugawara is enshrined. Apart from being a famous scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian Period of Japan, he is the center of the yearly “Tenjin Matsuri” in July (note the marvelous videos about the festival at this link).
During this temple visit I learned that not only people come to pray, but I noticed as well several cats being comfortable on the shrine ground. I know I will be back again, because on the ground I saw so many shrines built for an amazing number of gods I have not heard of before. I definitely need to brush up on early Heian history.

Everywhere in Japan you can find many Tenman-gu shrines, which actually originated from a powerful story related to the afterlife of Michizane Sugawara. According to Wikipedia in 901, through the political maneuverings of his rival, Fujiwara no Tokihira, Sugawara was demoted from his aristocratic rank and sent to a minor official post at Dazaifu (Kyushu’s Chikuzen Province). Sugawara died lonely exiled. Afterwards plague and drought spread, plus the sons of the present Emperor Daigo died in succession. Additionally the Imperial Palace’s Great Audience Hall was struck repeatedly by lightning, and the city experienced weeks of rainstorms and floods.

Attributing this to the angry spirit of the exiled Sugawara, the imperial court built a Shinto shrine called Kitano Tenman-gū in Kyoto, and dedicated it to him. They posthumously restored his title and office, and struck from the record any mention of his exile. Sugawara was deified as Tenjin-sama, or kami of scholarship.

As soon as I understand the background of this marvelous historical Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, I will get back to you again. In the meantime, let’s welcome the coming warmer weather!

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

4 thoughts on “First signs of Spring

  1. Hi, your pictures look amazing. What is the temperature like in Osaka right now? I will be going over this weekend and I am just wondering if it is cold or windy enough for me to bring a huge coat over!Thanks!

    • Dear Loretta,

      thank you very much for your compliment about the pictures.
      As I am not right now in Osaka, I can refer you to my most favorite weather link (http://weather.yahoo.co.jp/weather/). Although it is in Japanese, it has quite many advantages, because it allows you a rather detailed daily forcast (for every three hours), plus you can focus in on the area where you actually will be. For example being in Tokyo it does not mean that the weather is the same everywhere within the city. Some areas tend to have more rainfall than others and expecially in summer the actual temperature can be rather different.
      In the case you do not know exactly in which part of Osaka you will be, plus further in case if you do not read and write Japanese, the easiest option are the known weather links (http://www.wunderground.com/) or all the newpaper or TV related resources.

      Fur sure enjoy your stay in Osaka and don’t forget to try the local goddies you can only get in Osaka,

      Sibylle Ito

    • Dear Odorunara,

      I am very happy to hear that you are a plum blossom fan too. Soon more and more flowers should pop up everywhere.
      Let’s count the days until it is finally warm again!

      All the best from sunny Tokyo,

      Sibylle Ito

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