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Special Feature on Plum Blossoms

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the most famous shrine in Fukuoka when it comes to plum blossoms!
The Legend of Tobiume and the Tenjin-sama


My name is Takada, and I am the writer in charge of this article.
I am a housewife and a writer as well as a history and shrine/temple enthusiast!
I am a geeky housewife who writes a wide range of articles on history, shrines and temples, occultism, and other maniacal topics.(^^♪

Spring is the season of plum blossoms, and the most famous plum tree in Fukuoka is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.
I will explain the story of plum blossoms and Tenjin-san (Lord Michizane Sugawara) related to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.♪

What kind of shrine is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine?

Dazaifu Tenmangu Romon Gate
Dazaifu Tenmangu Romon Gate

This time I would like to introduce Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, one of the most famous plum blossoms viewing spots in my hometown of Fukuoka!

Located in Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and statesman of the Heian Period! The shrine of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is said to be built over the grave site of Sugawara no Michizane.
Dazaifu City is a very enjoyable spot for history buffs, as many places related to Sugawara no Michizane (a.k.a. Tenjin-sama) remain. In fact, Tenjin-sama has a strong connection with plum blossoms!

As a side note, I was researching Sugawara Michizane in order to find out about Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and it seems that Michizane did not have a seat in the Dazaifu Government Office.... Some without work is by the window, and the old aristocratic bullying is also insidious.

Tobiume at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Taken from the side of Tobiume, currently under renovation.
Taken from the side of Tobiume, currently under renovation.

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, one of Fukuoka's most famous plum blossoms viewing spots, is confirmed to be in bloom on January 23, 2023. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine has a white plum tree called "Tobiume," which is over 1,000 years old. Strangely enough, it is the first one to start blooming every year at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.

This flying plum tree has an origin. About 1,000 years ago, during the Heian period (794-1185), Sugawara no Michizane lost a power struggle with Fujiwara no Tokihara and was exiled to Dazaifu. When Michizane left Kyoto, he found a plum tree in his house, He read the words, “If the east wind blows, do not forget spring, for the plum blossoms have no master”.

It is said that this plum blossom withered away after its master disappeared, but one day it flew through the sky and flew to Dazaifu where its master resides. What a romantic story!

Colorful plum blossoms adorn Dazaifu Tenmangu

Plum blossoms blooming at Tenmangu Shrine
Plum blossoms blooming at Tenmangu Shrine

Dazaifu Tenmangu has about 6,000 plum trees of about 200 different varieties, in addition to the sacred Tobiume plum tree. The plum blossoms in the precincts bloom early from January to February, but the overall highlight is generally around February. The full bloom time varies depending on the year, but it is generally said to be from the latter half of February to March.

There are not only white plums like Tobiume, but also yellow plums that bloom everywhere in the precincts and are beautiful. If you want to enjoy plum blossoms, please enjoy plum blossom viewing at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine!

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine's famous "God Cow Statue"

God cow statue
God cow statue

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is famous for its statue of a sacred cow!
There is a legend that says, "If you stroke the head of this cow, you will become wiser" and "If you touch its wounded part, it will heal".(*^-^*)

As for why it is a cow, it seems that there was a deep connection between Mr. Tenjin and the cow. To name a few:

・Michizane was born on June 25, 845, on the day of the Ox.
・Because he was born in the year of the ox, he loved cows very much.
・Michizane died on the day of the Ox in Engi 3rd year (905)
・In his will, Lord Michizane said that he should put it on an oxcart and not let people pull it, and leave it where the ox would go. The place where the cow stopped moving was buried as a cemetery.

You can see that it was a person who had a deep connection with cattle. When you learn about the historical background in this way, you can see a different side of history by delving into things like, "Why is this shrine enshrined?"

The God of Academics You Want to Visit During the Exam Season

Main hall of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (from a distance during renovation)
Main hall of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (from a distance during renovation)

The main shrine is currently under renovation, so I could only shoot from a distance, but it is the main shrine.
It is often the time of New Year's visit, but in February and March I often see students preparing for entrance exams. Tenjin, who is holding a festival, is a person who is very good at literature, and even in Japan, there are only people who can study.

Eventually, he also became an instructor at the " University Dormitory," an educational institution for bureaucrats. He became a "Doctor of Writing" and taught history, Chinese history and writing to students.
It is amazing that Michizane, who came from a lowly aristocratic family, was able to rise to the No. 2 position in the country through his studies in the Heian period, when the society was strongly hierarchical.
Students preparing for entrance exams are encouraged to visit the shrine and take advantage of the blessings of Tenjin-sama.

Information about Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Information about "Dazaifu Tenmangu".

4-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Business hours:
6:00 from vernal equinox to the autumn equinox, 6:30 otherwise Gates close at 19:00 on April, May, Sept and Nov,
At 19:30 from June to Aug, and at 18:30 from Dec to March.
Regular holiday:
Dazaifu parking center can accommodate about 1000 cars, 500 yen from 9:00 to 17:00

It is located about 15 minutes by car from Route 3, and about 10 minuteson foot from Nishitetsu Dazaifu Station!
There are also 100-yen parking lots scattered around the area, and it is easy to find a parking except for the first shrine visit of the year.
As soon as you leave the station, you can see the approach, so it's a perfect place to go for a walk♪

  • Entrance to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
    Entrance to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
  • They are currently collecting donations.
    They are currently collecting donations.

Incidentally, it is undergoing renovation in preparation for the "1125th Anniversary of Sugawara Michizane" ceremony from 2022 to 2027.
The finished product will be a large scale "planting trees on the roof" and they plan to plant plum trees and other trees on the roof.
It is very exciting!

Shrine associated with Michizane Sugawara (Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine)

Entrance to Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine
Entrance to Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine

There are many places in and around Dazaifu City that are associated with Sugawara no Michizane. One of these places is Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine in Chikushino City.

Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine is about a 30-minute walk from Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (quite a distance). Michizane always climbed up Mt. Tenpaizan appeal to the gods for his innocence. It is said that it was at this waterfall of Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine that he purified himself at that time. The shrine is located at the entrance of Mt Tenpaizan.

A waterfall where Michizane purified himself.
A waterfall where Michizane purified himself.

The deity was a life-size seated wooden statue that Michizane carved himself, but the shrine burned down during the Warring States Period. However, only the face of the deity was taken out of the shrine, which is now enshrined there.
If you want to stroll in the footsteps of Sugawara Michizane, why not visit the shrine? Incidentally, it is said that he also frequented the nearby Futsukaichi Hot Springs.

According to my grandmother, Michizane used to come there for treatment of scabies. Even today, people who suffer from atopic dermatitis go to Futsukaichi Onsen because it is said to be good for skin diseases.

Famous Chinese Poem by Michizane Sugawara in Dazaifu

Chinese poem by Michizane
Chinese poem by Michizane

There is a Chinese poem written by Sugawara Michizane near Gojisaku Tenmangu Shrine. The contents are,

The three quarters of a year of separation from home.
A hundred thousand lines of falling tears.
All things are a dream.
Time and time are looking up to his blue sky.

(Three or four months have passed since I left home. Tears flow endlessly when I think about this and that. Everything that has passed seems like a dream. Now I only look up to the heavens from time to time and complain.)

It is said that Michizane climbed a mountain called Tenpaisan and pleaded his innocence, so perhaps this poem was composed with that in mind. The calligraphy of this Chinese poem is said to have 18 birds. It seems to convey Michizane's desire to return to Kyoto as soon as possible....


I introduced the highlights of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, a famous spot for plum blossoms! I have the impression that there are 200 varieties of Ume, and they bloom until around spring. The white, peach, yellow, and other  colorful plum blossoms are soothing to look at.(^^♪

Dazaifu is also a good place for history lovers, so it might be interesting to follow in the footsteps of Sugawara no Michizane once you get there. Even if you live in Fukuoka for a long time, there are many spots you may be surprised to find out about.