Kitano Tenmangu shrine and its flea markets

Kitano Tenmangu shrine is one of Kyoto's most important shrines, historically and culturally. It was the first shrine where an actual person was enshrined, and remains popular among locals, especially students, to pray for success. 
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The shrine is associated with Tenjin, the kami of education.
Many pray in this shrine for good grades during exams, so as a student, I naturally had to visit and rub one of the few lucky cow statues. The shrine was also selling dried plums for the new year, which is usually boiled in water and drunk for good health.
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The shrine has become one of Kyoto's autumn colour spots and its garden is open to the public during this time, showcasing the beautiful maple leaves. also famous for its many plum trees that colour the shrine in a deep pink hue in spring.
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The shrine has become most famous for its flea markets, held on its grounds on the 25th of every month. This is where you can find displays of antiques, traditional clothes, pottery and, of course, lots of food!
Image from http://wanderandblossom.com/2014/08/kitano-tenmangu-kyoto.html
On the 25th of February however, a special Plum blossom festival (Baikasai), is held instead, attended by maiko and geiko of the nearby Kamishichiken geiko district (This district is a great  alternative to Gion by the way).
Image from http://www.deepkyoto.com/梅花祭-plum-blossom-geisha-at-kitano-tenmangu-shrine/
Despite being very popular among locals, when I visited there was hardly anyone around. This was probably because I went on a weekday, and close to its closing time. The shrine can however get extremely crowded during peak periods, including when the flea markets are held.
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With the main building being designated as a National Treasure, the shrine is truly something special. This is definitely a must go for its flea markets! The shrine offers something unique for each season and is a great place to visit if you want a very local experience!

Asha Mehta