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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine 太宰府天満宮

Fukuoka's ancient shrine was built to appease the spirit of an exile

Hundreds of Tenmangu shrines exist across Japan, each dedicated to the spirit of the learned scholar Michizane Sugawara. Among these, two reign supreme: Kyoto's Kitano Tenmangu and Fukuoka's Dazaifu Tenmangu, which is built above the grave of Michizane. The shrine itself is magnificent and is further complemented by extensive grounds covered with thousands of stunning plum trees.

Don't Miss

  • The plum blossoms: Over 6,000 plum trees are planted in the shrine's grounds and blossom in unison every March
  • Shops selling souvenirs and snacks lining Dazaifu Tenmangu's entrance
  • The Kyushu National History Museum, one of only four national museums built in Japan

How to Get There

Dazaifu Tenmangu is easy to access from Fukuoka City by public transport.

Take the Nishitetsu Line from Fukuoka Tenjin Station to Dazaifu Station, changing at Futsukaichi. Dazaifu Tenmangu is a five-minute walk from Dazaifu Station.

Heading to the shrine

The road leading to the shrine is lined with shops offering umegae mochi, the locally loved mochi dumplings filled with sweet red-bean paste. There are also a number of ice cream stands selling flavors that are entirely unique to Japan, such as green tea, black sesame, and kinoko (sweet soybean), along with countless shops for buying souvenirs and knick-knacks.

Entering the grounds

Before reaching the main shrine, take a moment to explore its grounds. Part of the appeal of Dazaifu Tenmangu is that it feels completely isolated from the bustle of everyday city life.

After entering the grounds through a large torii gate, a set of three bridges run across a pond filled with koi carp and terrapin turtles. The pond is shaped in the Japanese kanji character for "heart." Ancient, moss-covered camphor trees are propped up on stilts on the edge of the lake, and the banks are populated by some of the countless plum trees for which Dazaifu Tenmangu is famous.

The heart of Dazaifu Tenmangu

The main hall, or Honden, of Dazaifu Tenmangu is built over the grave of Michizane Sugawara, a scholar, politician and poet who rose to great prominence during the 9th century before being exiled to Dazaifu due to a fierce rivalry with the Fujiwara clan. He died in Dazaifu in 903, and it is thought that the earliest iteration of Dazaifu Tenmangu (the inner courtyard) was built in 913.

Following his death, Japan was plagued by natural disasters, and the government interpreted these events as the result of a curse placed upon them by the spirit of Michizane. The government decided to appease Michizane's spirit by building the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine for his spirit, in the process deifying Michizane as Tenman-Tenjin, the God of literature and calligraphy.

Japan's flying plum tree

To the right of the main shrine is Dazaifu Tenmangu's most famous plum tree. Known as Tobiume, the flying plum tree. Legend has it that after Michizane left Kyoto for his life in exile, this particular tree yearned for Michizane so much that it uprooted itself and flew to reunite with him in Dazaifu.

Michizane had a long-standing love of plum trees. It is said he composed his first poem at age five, which read, "How beautiful the red plum blossom, I wish to color my cheek with it."

Exam success

Due to Michizane's close association with learning, many Japanese visit the shrine to pray for success in their upcoming exams. Charms are available for purchase from the kiosks at the side of the main shrine. During exam season, huge numbers of ema (wooden plaque) charms can be seen hanging around the shrine's grounds.

Discover the shrine's fascinating history

For those interested in the life and times of Michizane, head to the Kanko Historical Museum, a small building to the right of the shrine depicting the main events of Michizane life through dioramas.

The Kyushu National Museum up the hill from Dazaifu Tenmangu offers more comprehensive information on the scholar's precocious rise to prominence and sudden exile to Dazaifu, as well as other superb exhibits.

Festivals

Dazaifu Tenmangu hosts several festivals during the year. An annual umeshu (plum wine) festival is held each March to coincide with the plum blossoms. Also in March, the Kyokusui-no-en Festival sees Waka poets dressed in kimono sit along a small stream, where they work to compose a poem before a cup of sake reaches them.

An event known as Usokae is held every January, in which participants exchange carvings of wooden bullfinches in a ceremony designed to cast off evil. One of these carvings is painted gold, and the person who receives the goldfinch is supposed to have a lucky year ahead.

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