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Dazaifu (大宰府) is a city in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.


Dazaifu was the local seat of power of imperial rule covering Kyushu after it was moved from present-day Fukuoka City in 663 until it was moved back there during the Muromachi period. It played a significant role during that time since there were close ties and trade between Korea and China, and visiting dignitaries arriving in Japan would stay in the area. It also served as an outpost of exile from the Heian capital, and its most famous resident was Sugawara no Michizane (菅原道真, August 1, 845 – March 26, 903), a politician, poet, and scholar who was demoted and sent there due to rival slander and political trickery. Today he is deified as the god of learning, literature and calligraphy, and the 3,000 acre (12 km2) Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine established two years after his death serves as the head Tenmangu shrine in Japan, receiving thousands of visitors every year (especially students taking school entrance exams).

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Dazaifu is accessible via Futsukaichi (二日市) station on the Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta Line, about 30 minutes in total, by limited express from Tenjin Station in Fukuoka City, and then 2 stops by local train from Futsukaichi Station.

From Tenjin station in Fukuoka there are at least a dozen trains per hour operating to Futsukaichi. The journey is 14 minutes by Limited Express, 18 minutes by Express, and 35 minutes by a Local train, and the fare to Dazaifu currently costs ¥400.

If you want to head from JR Hakata Station to Dazaifu, the best option is to take a local bus to Nishitetsu Yakuin Station (¥100) and from there take the Nishitetsu train to Dazaifu (transfer at Nishitetsu Futsukaichi). Some local buses are available from JR Futsukaichi station to Dazaifu too, but they are rather expensive and infrequent.

Those seeing both Fukuoka City and Dazaifu can take advantage of the extended version of the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass which covers Nishitetsu trains and buses, Showa buses, the Fukuoka City subway, and JR Kyushu trains within the area, and costs ¥1340 for adults and ¥670 for children.

By car[edit]

Take the main road number 3 south out of Fukuoka, which passes through Dazaifu. This can be crushingly slow for such a short distance. A better option is to take the toll road south out of Fukuoka (you can access from various points around the city) and get off at the Dazaifu interchange, which will cost ¥600 as of May 2007.

Get around[edit]

Dazaifu has little of interest to the average tourist beyond Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and the adjacent Kyushu National Museum, however, if you should want to explore the remaining ruins, you are advised to walk or bicycle.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, 4-7-1 Saifu, 092-922-8225, [1]. A large and beautiful complex dedicated to Sugawara Michizane in the city of his exile from Kyoto. It is considered to be one of the Three Great Tenjin Shrines of Japan. The street leading to the shrine is famous for umegaimochi, a kind of sweet plum-filled rice cake. The two most popular times to see the shrine are in late February and March during the plum blossom season with over 6000 plum trees of nearly 200 varieties in the area, as well as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Another good time to visit however is in early June when the shrine's garden is blooming with beautiful Japanese water irises. Free.  edit
  • Komyozenji Temple. Just a hundred meters from the bustling Tenmangu Shrine is a very peaceful Kamakura-era Buddhist temple hidden away in a quiet residential side street near the Tenmangu Shrine complex. A small Zen rock garden with a single maple tree marks the entrance to the temple, while at the back there is an elevated wooden walkway that provides a view of an exceptional moss garden designed in a 'sea garden' style. The best times to visit are from late spring when the garden moss has grown out, as well as late November when the leaves change to countless shades of orange, gold and brown. Be aware though that while some temples have restrictions on taking photos or video of the altar or sliding doors (fusuma), Komyozenji has the most draconian policy of any in the country, banning the shooting of anything - the temple, the gardens, everything. Any photos you see online are those taken surreptitiously. Fee: ¥200
  • Kyushu National Museum. [2] Recently built and within easy walking distance of the shrine. It's the newest National Museum following Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. Based on the concept "understand Japanese culture from the Asian point of view", they don't only exhibit but also preserve and investigate cultural assets, then prepare a variety of educational events to keep the museum fresh. The museum generally has interesting temporary exhibits, so check its website.
  • Kanzeonji Temple . Nearly equidistant from the Nishitetsu Gojo and Dazaifu train stations lies this old temple going back to the year 746. It holds Japan's oldest bell, and while some impressive structures were lost over time, its treasure hall still has several huge old wooden statues that are rare even for Japan.
  • Dazaifu Exhibition Hall . [3] Closer to Nishitetsu Tofuromae Station than Dazaifu Station, the remains of the old Dazaifu government buildings are where local imperial rule controlled Kyushu for several centuries. Today little more than stones on the ground from the building foundations remain, and if short of time for sightseeing, this site would be the first place to skip. But for those with an interest in archaeology however, the nearby Dazaifu Exhibition Hall has some displays and historical explanation.

Do[edit][add listing]

There are a variety of festivals held at various shrines across the town throughout the year. If it is possible, try to attend the monthly flea market in the grounds of Tenmangu Shrine, where kimonos can be had for ¥1000 or less.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Simply put, travel to Fukuoka city for shopping. Dazaifu houses merely the usual Japanese stores: Nitori, Uniqlo, GooDay, and so on.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are a huge number of restaurants serving typical Japanese fare in the immediate proximity of the Tenmangu Shrine.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Again, travel to Fukuoka City for evening entertainment.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Get out[edit]

For travel to Hakata, return via Futsukaichi, heading northwards. There is also a Nishitetsu bus from Ohashi Station to Fukuoka Airport. For those going on to Yanagawa, head southwards from Futsukaichi.

Routes through Dazaifu
KitakyushuFukuoka  N noframe S  ChikushinoKumamoto

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