Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sightseeing in Kyushu - Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Dazaifu is a small city about 30 minutes by train from Fukuoka. However, it has been the administrative center of Kyushu for about 400 years until the 12th Century A.D. It was built in 903 A.D. and dedicated to the spirit of the poet Sugawara Michizane, who was later deified as the god of literature and calligraphy (Tenman Tenjin).

The entrance to the shrine is lined up with souvenir shops.

Taikobashi (the drum bridge) with two humps separated by a flat middle. The three sections correspond to the past, present and future, in the order you pass them when entering the shrine.

The pond and the buildings are quite nice.

The gate to the main building of the shrine

The main building

The shrine has several statues of the ox, believed to have carried the coffin of Michizane. This one is believed to have healing powers. These kids are touching various parts of the ox's body, wishing for healing of ailments of corresponding parts in their own bodies. Of course, the horns are not likely to serve any purpose in this case. :o)

This bird, known as "Uso", is believed to drive bad luck away and bring goodluck. Wooden replicas of Uso are popular souvenirs of Dazaifu.

A couple of random photos

You will find that the shop owners in Dazaifu are extremely friendly. They take their time to talk with the visitors, even the small kids who are the least likely to buy souvenirs. Even if you dont know any Japanese, some simple English and a few hand gestures will be enough for a good conversation and travel tips.

Dazaifu is said to look best during late winter (end of February to mid March) when the plum trees (around 6000) bloom. June must be nice too, with the Iris bloom in the ponds and the fresh green leaves. Hopefully I will get a chance to visit again to see these.

English home page of the official Dazaifu Tenmangu website

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