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Umebachi-mon


NO.11
Umebachi-mon
The hoshi-umebachi crest, symbol of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and carved into lanterns near the main hall.
On February 25, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (or Tenjin-san) comes alive with visitors to the Plum Blossom Festival. The 2,000 plum trees in the park and shrine precincts are in full blossom. Tenjin-san was dedicated to Sugawara-no-Michizane (posthumously named Tenjin), a scholar and statesman of the early Heian Period. Sugawara-no-Michizane had a liking for plum blossoms, as was expressed in some of his writings. However, many people are unaware that variations of the umebachi-mon (crest of the plum-blossom) are used by Tenmangu shrines throughout Japan. The Kitano Tenmangu crest is a simple affair, being a circle surrounded by larger circles. It is known as the hoshi-umebachi-mon (crest of the star plum blossom). What star this alludes to remains an unanswered question. To be sure, Michizane was regarded as a 'superstar' of learning. When the going gets rough for students taking school or university entrance exams, Tenjin-san may just be the star that gives them hope and direction.

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