Tenjin-shinko Faith (天神信仰)
"Tenjin-shinko Faith" is a belief in Tenjin (heavenly gods) (Raijin (god of lightning)), specifically, a Shinto faith with awe and prayers centered around Sugawara no Michizane as 'Tenjin-sama.'
Originally, Tenjin referred to Amatsukami (heavenly gods) as opposed to Kunitsukami (gods of the land), and was not used to indicate a specific god, but after Michizane's death, it was called Karai tenjin (god of fire and thunder) and was connected to the Raijin-shinko Faith, which led to faith in Michizane's divine spirit and being referred to as the Tenjin-shinko Faith.
Michizane, who was ousted from the Daijin position in a conspiracy by Fujiwara no Tokihira, and degraded to Dazaifu (governmental office in Chikuzen Province), died in despair. Following his death, an epidemic spread, drought continued, and the imperial princes of Emperor Daigo died of diseases one after another. Additionally, the Seiryo-den imperial palace was struck by lightning, resulting in many casualties. The Imperial Court fearing that this was a curse from Michizane, pardoned Michizane's sin and conferred on him a posthumous rank.
Michizane's revengeful ghost was connected to raijin due to the lightning incident at the Seiryo-den imperial palace. Originally, a Jinushigami called Karai tenjin was enshrined in the Kitano district of Kyoto, and the Imperial Court decided to build the Kitano-tenmangu Shrine to appease the curse of Michizane (see Goryo-shinko Faith). Additionally, the Dazaifu-tenmangu Shrine was built in Dazaifu, where Michizane died. In 949, in response to a story about seven pine trees growing overnight in front of the Taishogun sha, which was the northwestern point for peace and control of Naniwa-kyo, the Osaka-tenmangu Shrine (Tenman tenjin) was built under imperial command. In 987, the shingo 'Kitano-tenmangu daijin,' was given (literally, "shrine name"), which is the title given to a Shinto shrine. In addition, the shrine was also referred to as Tenmandaijizai tenjin, Nihondaijoitokuten, etc. and was feared as the shrine of a horrifying revengeful ghost.
By the end of the Heian period to the beginning of the Kamakura period, it became less feared as a revengeful ghost. According to "The Tenjin Engi" written at that time, Tenjin-sama was worshipped as the god of mercy or god of honesty. During the Edo period, Tenjin was worshipped as the god of learning, due to the fact that Michizane was a great scholar and poet in real life.
Originally, Karai tenjin was considered a god of lightning coming from the sky, and since lightning occurs with rain and rain is essential for growth of crops, it is also the god of agriculture. Traditionally, Tenjins were enshrined in various locations as were Karai tenjin, but since Karai tenjin was equated with Michizane, the Tenjins enshrined in various locations were also considered to be Michizane. Additionally, kanjo (ceremonial transfer of a divided tutelary deity to a new location) from Kitano-tenmangu Shrine and Dazaifu-tenmangu Shrine was frequently performed. There are roughly ten thousand shrines (according to Shoji OKADA, 3953 shrines) enshrining Tenjin (Michizane), mostly in Kyushu and western Japan, under the names Tenmangu Shrine, Tenman-jinja Shrine, Kitano-jinja Shrine, Sugawara-jinja Shrine, Ten-jinja Shrine, etc., and it ranks third in the number of branch shrines.
The Kitano-tenmangu Shrine and the Dazaifu-tenmangu Shrine were established separately, and neither received kanjo from the other.
Therefore, at the Kitano-tenmangu Shrine and the Dazaifu-tenmangu Shrine, the terms 'Sohonsha' and 'Sohongu' are not used, but instead are described as 'the birthplace of Tenjin-shinko Faith.'
Examples of Tenjin-shinko Faith
Hokuriku (region west of Tokyo on Japan Sea side of Japan)
In Fukui Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture, when the eldest son is born, a Tenjin zo (wood carving or hanging scroll) is displayed in the alcove every new year holiday, and in Fukui, there is the custom of offering flatfish on January 25. The hanging scroll, etc. are given from the mother's side of the family. According to one theory, around the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate, Shungaku MATSUDAIRA, the feudal lord of Fukui Domain, who was devoted to education, suggested to his people to put up a Tenjin-ga (painting of Tenjin), and this was proliferated by the drug sellers of Toyama. Additionally, in the other areas governed by the Maeda Domain, such as Ishikawa Prefecture, and neighboring areas, similar customs were practiced. In Kanazawa City, there was a custom of putting up wood carvings of Tenjin and multiple servants until around 1960. The Maeda family claims to have descended from the Sugawara clan, and this is why the family crest is the plum blossom, which is the same as the shrine crest of Tenjin.
The family crest of Maeda family is called 'Kenumebachi.'
Northern Hiroshima Prefecture
Dolls, such as Tenjin zo are given for baby's first sekku (the Boys' Festival). See Miyoshi ningyo.