Sweet Kitano Tenmangu | Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and Japanese Sweets to Try Near-by

Why visit this area?

Located in the north-west of Kyoto, Kitano-Tenmangu is in my opinion one of the most beautiful shrines Kyoto has to offer as it has many different facets to discover. Furthermore, you can find some unique sweets shops near-by.


How to get there

Bus: Kyoto City Bus number 50 0r 101 (30min from Kyoto Station).

Subway: Karasuma Subway line to Imadegawa Station and then Bus 102 or 203 from there to the Kitano Tenmangu bus stop.


About Kitano Tenmangu Shrine



History and Functions

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in 947 AD, so more than 1000 years ago, in honor of Sugawara no Michizane (845-903). Sugawara no Michizane was a scholar and politician during Heian Period (794-1192). In 901 he was the victim of an intrigue and lost his high post at the court. According to a legend, after he died a lonely death in exile, epidemic plagues, floods as well as a drought broke out. Furthermore, part of the imperial palace was stroke by lightnings several times. People thought it was Michizane´s angry spirit who was responsible for those catastrophes. In order to appease him, he got his titles back and the Kitano Tenmangu shrine was built.



Ever since the imperial family, nobles, samurai as well as commoners have been visiting the shrine to worship him. The special thing about this shrine is that it is the first Japanese one where an actual person is enshrined as a deity and Michizane is most known as the "god of academics", but also as "god of agriculture", "god of honesty and sincerity,” “god of dispelling false accusations” and “god of performing arts.”


Even though there are many more shrines dedicated to him, lots of students come to his origin and main shrine Kitano Tenmangu in order to pray for passing examinations and improvement of their abilities.


There are also many festivals, events and a street market held every year. One of them is the street market called „Tenjin-san´s Festival“ which is held every month on 25th and is rooted in Sugawara no Michizane´s birth and death. Check out the official homepage for more information events.


Must-see Spots at Kitano Tenmangu


Momiji-en


The shrine features a grove of 350 maple trees which you can see blooming in early spring or marvel at the beautiful autumn leaves in fall.


I went there in fall of 2019 and the beauty of the tinted maple leaves was stunning! I especially loved the red ones. And compared to other autumn leaf spots it wasn’t super crowded, either.



Ume garden


There is also the famous ume garden, which is open for public from the time they blossom and it is known as one of the bast spots of the country to see Japanese plum blossoms.



However, when I went there unfortunately all the blossoms were already gone, which was quite disappointing. Especially because the staff still charged the full entrance fee and didn’t even mention that the season was over. So, be sure to go in mid-season to avoid disappointment.


 

Admission:

free (except for the Ume garden in Spring)


Hours:

April - September: 05:00 - 18:00

October - March: 05:30 - 17:30

Opening hours during the period of the illumination of the Momiji-en: 9:00-20:00


Address:

Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8386, Japan

Map


Homepage:

https://www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php

 

Sweets Near Kitano Tenmangu

When I visit shrines or temples I love combining it with eating wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) as I just love them so much. The ones I am going to introduce now are three kinda famous ones which, in my opinion, you should not miss! By the way, as far as I know they should be completely vegan as well if, like me, that is something you care about.

Awamochi-dokoro Sawaya


If you visit Kitano-Tenmangu, you must try Awamochi-dokoro Sawaya´s (粟餅所・澤屋) famous awamochi!

The more than 300 years shop for traditional Japanese confectionary shop is conveniently located right in front of the shrine. Usually mochi are made from rice, but awamochi are made from millet and very soft. Another special thing about them is that they come covered in anko (sweet bean paste) instead of being filled with it or thoroughly coated in kinako (sweet soy bean powder).



As they are made freshly after placing your order they are especially yummy! My boyfriend and I got them to go and enjoyed them while watching autumn leaves at Kitano-Tenmangu which was so perfect! I loved how they packaged them in a small wooden box with less plastic which is not only environmentally friendlier but also looks very traditional and makes them perfect as omiyage, too.

The shop also sells other kinds of awamochi, so check them out and have a look for yourself!


 

Prices

for the regular set of 3 awamochi with anko plus 2 with kinako: 600¥

Opening Hours:

09:00 - 17:00

Closed on Thursdays


Address:

838-7 Kamiyagawacho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8384, Japan

Map


Tel.:

075-461-4517


 


Chogoromochi Kitano Temmangu Kedaichaten



Acc0rding to the official website, chogoromochi 長五郎餅 have their origin in a tea ceremony by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587. The special thing about these sweets is that the mochi part is very thin, allowing a huge filling of anko inside.


You can order them in a set with matcha and enjoy in the traditional Japanese cafe or buy boxes in different sizes to enjoy at home or gift them as a souvenir.


I personally liked them a lot as they are softer than many other kinds of mochi.



 

Pricespan:

Set of 2 mochi and regular green tea: 500¥

Set of 2 mochi and matcha: 700¥

Boxes: 1140-3620¥ (depending on the set or box size you choose)


Address:

Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8386, Japan

Map


Menu:

https://chogoromochi.co.jp/product/ (Japanese only)


Opening Hours:

9:00 - 17:00

Closed on Thursdays


Homepage:

https://chogoromochi.co.jp/storeguide/ (Japanese only)



 

Panda no Sanpo


If you like cute sweets, you have to check out Panda no Sanpo! This small sweets shop´s speciality are adorable dango looking like pandas called „pandango“ (the word is a mix of panda and dango. So cute, right?).



Depending on the season they have limited pandango with additional details, I for example had ones with little momiji. So pretty! While taste-wise they don’t really differ from dango from other shops, of course it goes without saying that they are yummy, too!



You can also buy boxes with several pandango inside.

 

Pricespan:

110¥ - 190¥ (1 dango or pandango)

Boxes: 3240¥-12969¥ (depends on how many are inside)


Address:

202 Shimoyokocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8373, Japan

Map


Menu:

https://www.pandanosanpo.com/english/pandango/menu/


Opening Hours:

Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 12:00 - 17:00

Usually closed Sunday-Wednesday and on public holidays


Homepage:

https://www.pandanosanpo.com/english/


 


If you know any other great traditional confectionary shops near Kitano-tenmango or have been to any of the shops I introduced, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.


Check out my Kyoto Sightseeing x Vegan Food Guides here:



Sources:

https://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3939.html

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugawara_no_Michizane


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