A shinto shrine dedicated to the god of learning, this is a popular spot beside Nishiki Market.

The shrine is easily spotted thanks to the stunning wall of lanterns and is especially beautiful in the evening when they offer a soft glow to the covered streets. Inside, there’s a small shrine hall, a natural spring, a well-worn cow statue and a unique fortune-telling machine like no other.

The shrine was founded in 1003 but has been moved from its original location of Sugawara-in, the birthplace of Sugawara no Michizane, famed scholar and politician. As the deified Michizane became the God of Learning, it’s a popular spot for those seeking good fortune in exams and studies in general, so expect to see lots of students.

The nade-ushi cow statue can be touched for good luck, with different body parts offering related protection, so the belly for safe pregnancy, or legs if you have leg problems. You may also notice the hanging wooden plums in the plum trees – these are Daigan-ume (meaning plums of great wishes) and can be bought for ¥500. You simply write your wish on the slip of paper, put it inside the plum and hang it on a branch of your liking—it should come to fruition, bringing your wish along with it.

If an unusual fortune teller is your kind of thing, then the Karakuri Omikuji offers you a glimpse into the future via a small mechanical shishi lion. The machines were actually designed by the head Priest, Mr. Yamato, and only 10 exist, so it’s a rare opportunity to try one. They’re only ¥200 a pop and offer fortunes in English as well as a little dance—what’s not to love?

Other Kyoto Attractions