Kyushu’s Former Government Headquarters
Dazaifu is an old small town located in the south-eastern suburb of Fukuoka. Its main attractions are Tenmangu, a large Shinto shrine, along with a National Museum introducing Japan’s history within the Asian context. Dazaifu retained political power over Kyushu during the imperial antiquity and the remains of its former glory are preserved and open to the visit.
The perfect one-day trip from Fukuoka, Dazaifu is a postcard-like Japanese city, easy to visit and with a rich historical heritage. The center of the town is enlivened by Western and Asian tourists who came to enjoy its main monuments, all within a walking distance. The well-marked sightseeing course can be trodden at a leisurely pace.
An attractive downtown around Dazaifu Tenman-gu shrine
The introduction to the city begins in the unavoidable shopping avenue named Dazaifu Monzen-machi. Its sides are lined up with hotels 🏨, restaurants and souvenir shops and serves, from the station:
- Komyozen-ji temple, renowned for its beautiful karesansui dry gardens,
- Dazaifu Tenman-gu shrine, one of the most important of its kind in Japan, and,
- Kyushu National Museum.
The street is perfect for a shopping session and a gourmet break with mochi confectionery, the local specialty. However, the area is sometimes overcrowded by tourists flowing from sightseeing buses.
Japan has many Tenmangu shrines, but Dazaifu’s is the most important, along with Kyoto’s Kitano Tenman-gu. Devoted to the memory of Sugawara no Michizane, a Heian period (794 – 1185) statesman and intellectual, it is very popular among young Japanese who come to pray Tenjin, the deity of education, for academic success.
Historic monuments on the outskirts of the city
Aficionados of Japan’s history will find interesting to move away from the city center to discover the Remains of Ancient Dazaifu Government Office. Today, the ruins in a public park are the only remains, but they recall the city’s important administrative role for more than five centuries, during the imperial eras of Nara and Heian. The city was founded in the 7th century to control the traffic of the main exchange hub with Asia that was Hakata (Fukuoka) port. The imperial power controlled the country from the Kansai area, but Dazaifu was also an essential place for Japan’s diplomacy and defense.
Many monuments of the city are designated shiseki (National Historical Sites). When looking for visits off the beaten tracks and for remote places, you can go to Dazaifu’s northern outskirt, to explore the ruins of Mizuki Castle 🏯 and Ono Castle. In addition to their heritage significance, they are surrounded by a lovely natural setting. The scenery in Dazaifu is also renowned for its plum and apricots blooming in the early spring 🌸, and the red maple trees in autumn 🍁.