Spring has finally arrived, and Autumn is already a two seasons behind. Now is the perfect time to reminisce on the autumn that was. (Ok, that was just me trying to justify the late posting these photos of Autumn in Yuusentei Garden in Fukuoka City. If ever you are in Fukuoka during Autumn, this place is a must-see. I think its worth the trip to Fukuoka itself!
Dazaifu City is the historic capital of Kyushu Island where it was governed for more than 500 years some 1300 years ago. It is therefore a must-see destination for those interested in Japanese culture, history and nature at its best. This city houses the most popular tourist attractions of Fukuoka Prefecture and a visit to Fukuoka is not complete without taking that trip to Dazaifu to visit its famous shrines, gardens, and immerse oneself in Kyushu’s culture. It is no accident that one of Japan’s three national museum is here.
1. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (太宰府天満宮)
Dazaifu Tenmanguu Shrine is probably the most famous tourist attractions in Fukuoka Prefecture. It enshrines Michizane Sugawara (菅原道真) a high ranking government officer who served the emperor but who was sent into exile to Kyushu. His miserable life being away from his family is described in the legends along with his talent and pure heart. Thus, the shrine is now famous as the enshrining the god of academics as he was known as the “God of literature or calligraphy”. Many people visit this shrine to pray for successful entrance examinations and job applications. During the New Year season (1-7 January), Dazaifu Tenmanguu Shrine is ranked one of the most crowded places in Japan. This is when many Japanese visit as part of their New Year’s tradition, and it is also right before school entrance exam season. If you are strong enough to survive such crowds and cold weather, we suggest immersing yourself among the hopeful students and New Year revelers during the countdown to the new year. It is certainly a unique and spiritual way of celebrating the New Year in Japan!
Snow settles on the roof of the shrine’s eastern entrance in winter. (more…)
November is always Sumo season in Fukuoka as the Grand Sumo Tournament goes to town for the Kyushu Basho. Sumo tickets are expensive and hard to come by, but to get a front seat and intimate view of the wrestlers, you don’t really have to pay a single yen. As the the tournament begins, many shrines around Fukuoka play hosts to Sumo Beya’s (Sumo Stables) and provide lodging and practice arenas for them within the compound. The public are allowed to view the training sessions. We were lucky enough to have the shrine that hosts the current grand champion Mongolian Asashoryu right in the neighborhood. Asawa and I woke up early, had a light breakfast but everything else we would see that day would be heavy.
Sumo Wrestlers prepare to spar during a training session as young kids look on.