The spirit enshrined here is Sugawara no Michizane, a poet from the Heian Period (approx. 800–1200 CE). The date of this shrine’s construction, however, is unknown. Its name, too, has seen many changes across the ages: Tenman Shrine and Kusugawa Shrine, among others. Nowadays, it is known as Kusugawa Tenmangu.
In the shrine’s ancient records, it is written that in May of 1730 (Kyōhō 15), there auspiciously appeared two silver coins in a pot being used to warm sake upon completion of the shrine’s torii gates. These coins were thus dubbed the “Silver of Heavenly Happiness,” and are stored as treasures at the shrine.
In May of 1740 (Genbun 5), a wooden likeness of Tenjin, the god of thunder, washed up on the beach in front of this shrine. When shrine officials laid their eyes on it, there was no mistake: it was a statue of Sugawara no Michizane. In order to verify this, it was first sent to Kagoshima, and then brought back to Kusugawa Tenmangu for safekeeping.
While Sugawara no Michizane is venerated at Tenmangu shrines across Japan as a god of learning and scholarly pursuits, this shrine was built facing the ocean—thus, it also functions as a shrine for the safe passage of ships and a protector against oceanic disasters.