Dazaifu, 15km south east from Fukuoka, is famous for its Tenman-gu Shrine. Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine is Japan's number one shrine dedicated to Tenjin, the guardian deity of students. Tenjin, aka Sugawara-no-Michizane, was a Heian period scholar, poet and court official who was exiled from Kyoto in 901 to Dazaifu in the wilds of Kyushu where he died in 903.
Tenman-gu shrines abound in Japan, there are over 12,000 in all, including Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto and Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo, though Dazaifu is considered the number one hotspot for high school students hoping to pass university entrance exams as the shrine is supposedly built on Michizane's grave.
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is noted for its plum blossoms - supposedly Sugawara-no-Michizane's favorite flower, giant camphor trees and its festivals in September (Jinko Shiki) and January (Oni-sube).
A curved stone bridge (Taiko-bashi) leads to the shrine - the first steep incline represents the past, the flat top symbolizes the present and a second more gentle rise represents future difficulties.
Through the main gate of the shrine lies the 16th century worship hall, with its splendid thatched roof.
Dazaifu has other temples and places of interest: Komyozenji, which dates from the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) and is known for its stone gardens, the 8th century Kanzeonji, which appears in the The Tale Of Genji, and was once Kyushu's largest temple. Only the bronze bell, the oldest such bell in Japan and a number of amazing, wooden statues remain from that period, nearby Kaidanin dates from the Heian Period 794-1192 and was one of only three ordination halls for Buddhist priests in Japan at that time, the others being Todaiji in Nara and Yakushiji in Tochigi.
Dazaifu stood at Japan's frontier and gateway to Korea and China in the Nara and Heian Period and various defensive fortresses and walls remain from that time, including Ono Fortress and Mizuki Fortress. The ancient center of Kyushu's government (Tofuro), located next to Kaidanin, is now in ruins, with only the huge foundation stones left standing.
Finally, the fine wave-like, wood and glass Kyushu National Museum, designed by architect Kiyonori Kikutake and opened in 2005, exhibits an excellent collection of ceramics and displays of the history of Kyushu and its role as an Asian crossroads.
Dazaifu Tourist Office (Tel: 092 925 1880) is located adjacent to the railway station and hires out bicycles.
Access: Nishitetsu train from Nishitetsu-Fukuoka Station in Tenjin to Dazaifu Station on the Tenjin Omuta Line or JR train from Fukuoka Hakata Station to JR Futsukaichi Station on the JR Kagoshima Main Line then change to Nishitetsu at Futsukaichi Station.
By road from Fukuoka take the Kyushu Expressway and exit at Dazaifu or Chikushino Interchange if coming from Kumamoto.
Japanese Art - byobu screens
Japan Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine Sugawara Michizane Kyushu
Tuesday, April 03, 2007