At New Year, Kitano Tenman-gu is crowded with visitors, many of them praying for academic success in exams that take place early in the year. There is also a calligraphy competition that draws many young calligraphers, and a traditional kyogen performance in an ancient open theater. The shrine is famous for plum blossom, and at New Year you can already see the buds beginning to swell. If the crowds become too much for you, take a stroll along the river next to the shrine. If you need refreshments you can buy green tea and Japanese sweets in a room warmed by traditional pottery hibachi (charcoal burners.)
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