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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
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. 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
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours 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
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders 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
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life 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 soy bean), 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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