- 'Heavenly Deity'. This honorific title is universally understood to refer to the deified spirit of the scholar and eminent imperial adviser Sugawara, Michizane (845-903), head of the Sugawara clan. He was unjustly banished to the governorship of Kyushu in 901 as the result of slander by the empress's brother, a Fujiwara, and instead of taking up his government duties retired to Dazaifu to write poetry, where he died protesting his innocence two years later. A series of disasters at the capital and the sudden deaths of his former enemies were interpreted as vengeful acts of Michizane's unquiet spirit, goryo or onryo. In an attempt to pacify his spirit he was posthumously pardoned, promoted in rank and eventually enshrined with titles including Tenman, Kitano daimyojin and the highest possible rank of Tenjin 'heavenly kami'. By the twelfth century he was identified with Kannon bosatsu. As an exemplar of literary skills he is now petitioned by parents and children as a kami of educational success, gokaku (see also Shintoku, riyaku). He is enshrined at Dazaifu and at thousands of other Kitano Tenjin shrines, most called -tenman-gu.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.