Dazaifu 太宰府: Of shrines and umegae mochi

By Cubie - July 21, 2019

Dazaifu 太宰府 used to serve as the administrative center for Kyushu island in the late 7th century. Nowadays it is a small city on the outskirts of Fukuoka.

Getting to Dazaifu from Fukuoka
There is a bus connection from Hakata bus center to Dazaifu but I took a train. Daizaifu is served b Nishitetsu's Tenjin Omuta Line, next to Tenjin subway station. So i took a subway from Hakata station to Tenjin station before connecting to Tenjin Omuta Line. Train fare from Nishitesu Fukuoka station to Dazaifu costs ¥400.

I only visited the few places near Dazaifu station so I only walked. This was the map I got from Dazaifu tourist info.

Daizafu Tenmangu Shrine (Dazaifu Tenmangū 大宰府天満宮)
Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on the site of Sugawara Michizane grave. Michizane was a scholar and politician in Heian Period, who was exile to Dazaifu following unfortunate rivalries. Michizane became the guardian deity of academics and believed and respected by many. Up to today, many students visited Dazaifu Tenmangu to pray for passing exams and for better grades.

It is a very busy shrine
On the grounds of Dazaifu, you'll see many statues of an ox. According to legend, when Michizane died, his disciple wanted to move his body using an ox carriage but the ox would not move and he was buried instead. The ox statue is meant to represent the sacred ox or goshingyu. You would also realised that certain parts of the ox is shinier as it is believed that you would be smarter if you pat the head of the ox.

Komyozenji (光明善寺, Kōmyōzenji)
This is a Zen temple just south of Dazaifu's Tenmangu Shrine. The door wasn't shut so I went through the gate but afterwards saw a sign that said it was closed. So I left, I like the look of the zen garden.

Tenkai-inari Shrine
This is a small-ish shrine accessible from Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. Along the route, the area nearer to the shrine were lined by tori.

Kyushu National Museum
This is the fourth national museum in the country. The other 3 are in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. I walked passed but didn't go in, though I went through the Rainbow Tunnel Travelator on my walkabout.

Umegae mochi
This crispy outer layer with red bean filling is served hot and it is quickly becoming my favourite type of mochi. The top of the mochi has an imprint of plum blossom.

Despite the word "ume" as part of the name, it is not actually plum flavoured. Legend has it that Sugawara no Michizane moved a plum tree that he loved from Kyoto to Dazaifu with him. Another version of the story was Sugawara no Michizane was given a mochi cake wrapped in a plum twig when was demoted to Dazaifu.

One of the famous shop selling this local delicacy is Kasa no Ya. There was a queue if you do a takeaway.

It was lunch time when I wanted to get one, so I ate inside. There is also option of matcha umegae mochi set served in the restaurant. I ordered a bowl of "saifu udon", ¥550 and a umegae mochi, ¥120.

Just before I walked back to Dazaifu station, I queued and got another one to munch.

Dazaifu's shopping street
This street leads all the way to Tenmangu Shrine and flanked with souvenir and food shops. There's also a modern Starbucks shop, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

The man in red shirt stood in the middle of the shop for a long time. It was quite a sight to see many people holding cameras on the other side waiting for him to walk away. Nobody said anything but stood there and waited. After awhile he walked to the side, not sure if he realised people were waiting for him to move away from the shop. I didn't want to wait any longer so this picture...

On the day of my visit, there was no direct train back to Fukuoka/Tenjin but it only took one train change so it wasn't hard.

Getting to Fukuoka International Airport from Fukuoka city
The easiest (no transfer) needed way is via bus. I got on from 4-chome and paid ¥270. There would be more options if you get on from Hakata bus center.

Side note: There are also other trip options from Fukuoka like Miyajidake Shrine with spectacular Path of Light, Nanzoin TempleNokonoshima for some flower event, Itoshima for oysters, Shikanoshima Island for some cycling for Daihonzan Naritasan Kurume Temple

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  1. I've always been curious about Dazaifu. After visiting would you rank it among the best day-trips from Fukuoka?

    1. Yes, I would rank it as one of the best day trips from Fukuoka :)