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Monday, February 16, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine 太宰府天满宫

Visited 16.03.2014

The main hall (Honden); Kisa no ume on the left and Tobi ume on the right
History. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is an important landmark in Dazaifu city. It is sacred to the memory of Michizane Sugawara (菅原道真) famously known as the God of literature or calligraphy. In 901 A.D., Michizane was demoted from a high ranking government official and sent to exile in Dazaifu, where he died two years later. Michizane is celebrated as a man, pure in heart and deed, and after his death, he was deified and worshiped as a god in Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which is built on the site of his grave. Many people, especially students, make their way to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine to pray for excellence in academic studies.

Top left: Taikobashi; Top bottom: bronze statue of ox at the entrance.
Layout. Exit Nishitetsu Dazaifu station and turn right. Walk to the end of Omotesando and turn left as you approach the bronze statue of an ox. Cross the Taikobashi (太鼓橋) which is made up of three bridges - the first arched bridge represents the past, next flat bridge the present and last arched bridge the future. Shinji ike (心字池) is just beneath the bridges and the name of the pond came about because it resembles the character "heart" (心). The first shrine was built in 905 A.D. and a larger structure was later constructed in 919 A.D. but was destroyed by war and fire. The current main hall (Honden), which displayed fine and intricate Monoyama style architecture, was constructed in 1591 and has been preserved in the same state since then. The main hall has also been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.


Plum. As there are about 6,000 plum trees in the compound, the shrine is popular with visitors especially during the spring season. There are two plum trees planted on both sides of the main hall. The one of the right is called Tobi ume or flying plum (飛梅). The name came from the legend of this plum tree uprooting itself from Kyoto (where Michizane came from) to reunite with Michizane in Dazaifu. Unfortunately, almost all of the flowers of Tobi-ume have already withered during my visit - the best time to witness the bloom is in late January. The tree on the left side is named Kisa no ume (皇后の梅) and was planted in 1922 when Teimei Kogo (貞明皇后) came to the shrine for worship. Most of the plum trees are found in the park located outside the main hall. Made use of the remaining time before the shrine was closed for the day to admire these beautiful late bloomers.


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Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine 太宰府天满宫
〒818-0117 福岡県太宰府市宰府4丁目7番1号
Opening hrs:
Jun - Aug: 0630 - 2000 hrs
Sep - May: 0630 - 1900 hrs
http://www.dazaifutenmangu.or.jp/en


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Video: Scroll to 40:10 for 遇约九州's feature on Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.

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