There were more visitors than I expected to see at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in the pouring rain. It was much more than the Jodo Shinshu temples of Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji. This shrine is one of the most venerable of the many Tenjin shrines in Japan dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane. Of course, it is believed to be beneficial for academic achievement. It doesn't matter if it's raining or if the new coronavirus is spreading, many people come here to seek its blessings. It may be different for those who are highly conscious, but for ordinary people, getting a good score on an upcoming exam must be a more earnest wish than being guaranteed to be reborn in the Pure Land where Buddhas and Bodhisattvas live after death.
In traditional Buddhism, present-day benefits are considered secondary, and beliefs that focus on worldly present-day benefits are often disparagingly called belief in benefits. In contrast to such a situation, shrines are more generous to worldly benefits. In addition to academic success, there are many shrines that offer other present-day benefits such as prosperity in business, success in love, and safety in the home. It seems as if Buddhism is in charge of what happens after death, while shrines are in charge of what happens in this life.
May 2, 2021
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto
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