Yushima Tenjin Shrine, c. 1910.

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“Yushima-tenjin, near Okachimachi Station, was originally built in the 14th century and restored during the 19th. The shrine is dedicated to Sugawara-no-Michizane (845-903), a Heian-period statesman and scholar later deified as the patron of learning.

“Yushima-tenjin is particularly revered by students praying for success in exams, as well as for its garden of plum trees, which attract large crowds when they blossom between mid-February and mid-March.”

National Geographic Traveler: Japan, 4th Edition, by Nicholas Bornoff & Perrin Lindelauf, 2013

Yushima Tenjin Temple, Tokyo, c. 1910.

Yushima Tenjin Temple, Tokyo, c. 1910.

“Yusima stands on the very rim of the Yamanote hills with their long, sinuous ridges and steep but shallow escarpments, nowadays all too often obscured by overbearing apartment blocks. It is an area of old and venerable slopes with names that tell fascinating stories not only oh Yusima’s history but the history of the whole city.

“For Tokyo is a city that lays great store by the names of its sloping roads, its sakamichi. There are over five hundred named slopes or hills in Tokyo, the subject of all sorts of learned disquisitions on their origins, their exact location, and still more arcane information.

“… Above all else, Yushima still has its shrine, Yushima Tenjin, one of the most attractive in the city. Two flights of steps, one on a mildly inclined ‘Female Slope’ and the other on a steep ‘Male Slope’, cut through a grove of plum trees and up to the shrine, which has remained over the centuries one of the favored gathering points of the city’s inhabitants.

“In the Edo period its grounds contained teahouses as well as plum trees and stone lanterns. Now on festival days it is crowded with stalls welling sweets and fried noodles and toys and masks for children. All year round, but particularly in spring, it is popular with students, who go to pray for success in exams to the ninth-century statesman and poet Sugawara-no-Michizane, deified as Tenjin, patron of the arts and learning.”

Tokyo: City of Stories, by Paul Waley, 1991

Yushima-tenjin Shrine, Tokyo, c. 1930.

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