Home » Yushima Tenjin – a shrine for flower lovers

Yushima Tenjin – a shrine for flower lovers

Yushima Tenjin is another of Tokyo’s important shrines.  You’ll find it in Bunkyo Ward.  It isn’t big, but it is famous for its flowers in spring and autumn. The architecture is quite impressive too. For photographers, this place should be on their bucket list.

Yushima Tenjin gate and plum blossoms
The rear entrance to the shrine.

The shrine’s flowers are a huge drawcard.  Visitors come for the plum blossoms and chrysanthemums.  When either of them bloom, photographers will come from near and far!

Yushima Tenjin Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums during autumn.

Yushima Tenjin has other attractions.  One is its ema.  Yes, these little wooden tables are an attraction, believe it or not!  Another is a treasury museum.  Let’s talk about the history first.


A brief history of Yushima Tenjin

The shrine was initially dedicated to the god, Ameno-Tajikarao-no-Mikoto.  He is the kami of sports and strength in 458.  In 1355, he was joined by another.

Yushima Tenjin shrine

And that one was Sugawara no Michizane.  He was a 9th-century scholar, poet, politician, and diplomat.  These days, he is a patron of students, which is why those ema are at the shrine.  And it is said he had a great love of plum blossoms, which is why they fill the garden.

ema votive tablets at Yushima Tenjin

What is to photograph at the shrine?

  • Plum blossoms in spring (2022 pictures here), along with tea ceremonies in the garden. There is a small waterfall too.
  • Chrysanthemums in autumn (2021 pictures here).
  • The Gongen-zukuri style architecture and copper roof are attractive for architectural shrine photographers.  
  • Komainu guardians are around the shrine, and wooden sishi are on the roof.
  • Bulls!  Yes, there are bulls and oxen.  Michizane was born in the year of the cow.  One pulled his funeral bier! They are considered to be his messengers.   Many people believe that the statues can cure ailments and make them smarter.  You’ll always see someone giving them a touch on the head.
  • Remember the ema?  They’re all around the shrine, hanging off symbolic trees.  When people need divine help, they write their dreams or wishes and hang them on the “trees” around shrines.  And as Michizane is a kami of study, most are requests to him.  Students request him for help in passing tests.  During exam season, these things are stacked many deep!
  • The shrine has a treasure museum.  While you can only use cameras in the foyer, you can get close to one of the mikoshiMikoshi are portable shrines used at festivals.
oxen carving at Yushima Tenjin

Where is Yushima Tenjin?

Yushima Station (Chiyoda subway line) is very close to Yushima Tenjin, so leave it by the number 3 exit.  Here is a Google map:

Opening hours

The grounds of Yushima Tenjin are open from 6 am to 8 pm.  You can enter the treasury from 9 am to 5 pm (with last entry at 4.30 pm).

plum blossoms and Yushima Tenjin roof

Admission costs

Free, but the treasury costs ¥500.

Tiger ema votive tablet
Plum blossoms in the rear garden near the waterfall.

Other photo spots near Yushima Tenin

Wrapping up

For photographers, there is a lot to photograph at Yushima Tenjin.  You only need to walk around the grounds, and things will be popping out at you.  And with its Gongen-style architecture, it is a lovely place.

Spring and autumn will be the best time for most people.  The flowers transform the shrine into a colorful and lively place.  If you want to see a similar shrine, you should also check out Kameido Tenjin (it has pools and wisteria too).  It is also dedicated to Michizane.

stone monument and plum blossoms at Yushima Tenjin

Yushima Tenjin can get quite busy, even on weekdays.  But it is when the plum blossoms and chrysanthemums bloom, it overflows with people.  Still, I would plan those seasons for trips there.  At other times of the year, the flowers won’t be in bloom, so you’ll miss them, and the grounds will look empty!  

Near the shrine is a shop for those wanting to buy their ema, omikuji, or other souvenirs.  There is also a treasury room that costs ¥500.  It has a lot of historical items on display.  Unfortunately, nothing is written in English, which is a real pity.

wooden shishi lions
Wooden sishi guardians under the roof.

Yushima Tenjin is a great place, and I highly recommend it.  And Ueno is only a short walk away, so other interesting places are nearby.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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