Dazaifu Tenmangu at Fukuoka. A Most Amazing Visit
This is a very late article. I am sorry. I actually visited the Dazaifu Tenmangu in Fukuoka, Japan back in November 2019.
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However I only recently found time to write this article and do up the video. I still have a few articles to write about Fukuoka, including Nanzoin Temple and its Giant Buddha and also having meals at Yatai food stalls. All in good time as the air travel recovers in time for Singaporeans to go back to the amazing land of Japan !
It was a fantastic experience to be able to visit the Dazaifu Tenmangu as part of my trip to Fukuoka.
Do check out all my blog posts of Fukuoka, a most amazing place to visit in Japan, besides the usual Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka 🙂
Dazaifu Tenmangu and Michizane Sugawara
The shrine is quite unique in Japan as it is built on the burial site of Sugawara Michizane (845–903). He was a ninth-century court noble, politician and scholar. Sugawara was revered for his unrivalled academic ability, virtuous nature and unquestionable integrity. Dazaifu Tenmangu stands where this revered figure was laid to rest and has become a site of pilgrimage for many people from all walks of life, that have come to worship Sugawara Michizane over the past 1,100 years.
One of the main reasons for the many visitors to come to Dazaifu Tenmangu was to pray for scholarly pursuits and success in examinations. This is due to Michizane’s close association with learning and hence as a result, many Japanese (and tourists like me) visit the shrine every year 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 (the wooden plaques you can frequently see in Japanese temples) charms can be seen hanging around the shrine’s grounds.
I am doing that for my children too 🙂 I am a typical Singaporean parent 🙂
Getting to Dazaifu Tenmangu
A regular subway-and-train service also connects Hakata Station and Dazaifu Station. The journey takes around 50 minutes, including transfers. Take the Kuko subway line to Tenjin, then walk to Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station and connect with the Nishitetsu-Tenjin-Omuta-Line to Dazaifu Station.
This is a photo of the beautiful Dazaifu Subway Station. It looks amazing, isn’t it.
For us, we took a day tour which brings just to Dazaifu Tenmangu as part of the whole tour. So it was pretty easy. The only bad thing is that you are, as always, constrained by time set by the day tour operator.
Heading into Dazaifu Tenmangu
The pedestrian road leading to the Dazaifu Tenmangu is very touristy 🙂 The walk up is a treat for the senses – a pathway lined with busy vendors selling everything from lucky charms to sweet plum-filled mochi rice cakes.
It is lined with shops with many offering ice cream selling flavors that are entirely unique to Japan, such as green tea, black sesame, and kinako (sweet soybean). There are also many stores offering umegae mochi, the locally loved mochi dumplings filled with sweet red-bean paste. Of course, you can see many countless shops for buying souvenirs too.
The main attraction has to be the famous Starbucks Coffee shop at the street designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates. It is a most amazing sight.
YouTube Video on Dazaifu Tenmangu
Of course, I must have a video on the visit to Dazaifu Tenmangu. Here it is. As usual, I ask for your LIKES and SUBSCRIBE 🙂 HA
I also loved this quick official video !
The Stone Torii Gates
The Orii Gates can be found at all Shinto shrines and mark the entrance to sacred ground.
The path continues past a bronze statue of an ox, an iconic symbol of the shrine. There are around 10 statues of like this one around the Dazaifu Tenmangu grounds. This legend is the reason behind the many ox statues placed on the shrine grounds, meant to represent the goshingyu, or the sacred ox. It is believed that you can become smarter and expand your knowledge by patting the statue on the head.
I treat it as a lucky charm and just have to touch it for good luck in Toto and 4D. Oooops 🙂
The 3 Bridges at Dazaifu Tenmangu
You will then walk over three bridges before ending at the romon, a grand two-story gate marking the entrance to the main sanctuary.
I was told that by the tour operator guide that the 3 bridges represent the past, the present and the future. It is also said that passing one of the bridges makes your body and soul into a purer state for meeting the deity of the shrine.
And that when you cross the 3 bridges, do not look backwards. Just keep going forward. Like how life should be.
As you are crossing the bridges, you are actually crossing over a beautiful lake.
The Temizuya or Performing the Chozu
Worshippers going to the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine should purify themselves at the temizuya before entering the sacred precincts to offer prayers. At Dazaifu Tenmangu, the temizuya is on the right side of the path after you cross the taiko-bashi bridges. Special ladles for rinsing your hands and mouth are available. There are also good instructions for performing the purifying.
Experience this unique Shinto ritual of Chozu before approaching the main sanctuary. Read about it in this related article.
The Romon at Dazaifu Tenmangu
The crimson gate standing in front of the main hall, or honden, is called the romon. Of course, this is the subject of many great photos in this place. Take a look at it yourself, and admire this wonderful building on your walk to the honden.
The Honden at Dazaifu Tenmangu
Finally, you will reach the honden after passing the romon.
After passing under the romon gate, cross the courtyard and approach the honden, or main sanctuary, directly in front of you.
Directly in front of the shrine is an offerings box.
Approach the box and place a coin into it. Bow twice and then clap twice. Silently offer your prayer and, when ready, give a final bow.
You can also visit the souvenir shops to buy charms. I bought some for friends and one for safety in my car when driving 😉
You can also see the wishes of many visitors on ema, which are displayed in the grounds.
It was most fortunate for me to be able to visit Dazaifu Tenmangu temple. I always loved to travel to visit temples in different countries in the world. It was very touching and very emotional for me as I loved to make prayers for the good of my family and my friends and myself, of course. And now as a father, many times, I only make prayers for my children. The Dazaifu Tenmangu was a scholarly temple which I of course, would make prayers for my children’s education.
I also missed the Meiji Shrine at Tokyo and hope to be able to visit it again 🙂