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Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Among around 12,000 Tenmangu Shrines across Japan, the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is regarded as the most important. The main deity of the Tenmangu is the Tenjin, a Shinto god of education, which Sugawara Michizane has been associated with. Michizane was bright from a young age and quickly developed his political career, gaining more influence and climbed high within the ranks of the imperial court. Ultimately, Michizane was in conflict with the dominating power of the Fujiwara clan, which led to his exile from Kyoto to Dazaifu located in Kyushu. Just a few years in exile, Michizane passed away in 903 with his remains buried at the current site of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. The legend goes that the bull pulling the cart with his remains suddenly refused to move when they reached the location of Tenmangu. Disciples of Michizane thought it was a sign that their teacher wanted to be here and buried him. Natural disasters and sudden deaths of members of the imperial court were perceived as the curse of Michizane. In order to calm the angry spirit, the imperial court made offerings to the spirit, along with the construction of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on the site of this burial ground.

After passing the torii gates, visitors will be greeted by the sacred cow statue. The color on the nose and horns are different from the rest of the body, due to worshipers believing in rubbing these areas bring luck. As visitors proceed to the main hall of the shrine, 3 bridges representing the past, present, and future will provide the path going forward. The plum trees in front of the main hall is said to have flown over from Kyoto to Kyushu to be with Sugawara Michizane, who was very fond of plum trees. Many of the Tenmangu Shrines in Japan today will typically be surrounded with plum trees, which bloom from late February to mid March. Travelers can purchase a wide variety of special luck charms at this shrine for success in education, which is most popular among students in Japan.