The Hofu Tenmangu Shrine in Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture is the oldest of three large Tenmangu shrines. These Tenmangu enshrine Sugawara Michizane, a noble scholar from the Heian era. This is why the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine attracts worshippers seeking academic success. Hofu's charm isn't limited to this iconic shrine but also its dashing cafes and scrumptious local food. If you are interested in these attractions, read on and find out what this historic town has to offer.
Stroll around the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine
Hofu Tenmangu Shrine
A 15-minute walk from Hofu Station will take you to the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine. If you're driving, you can use the spacious parking lot for free. First, you will encounter its six-meter-tall stone torii gate, the oldest torii in Yamaguchi Prefecture . Once at the top of the steps, you will find a stone statue of a cow with a pink sty. The cow is believed to be a messenger of the deity Sugawara and visitors touch the statue in the hope their dreams will come true.
Stone statue of a cow
This shrine has traditionally hosted prayers for academic success. But because Sugawara was blessed with more than 10 children , it now attracts worshippers praying for matchmaking. To the shrine’s west is the Shunpuro building, a perfect lookout for capturing an expansive view of Hofu.
The plum tree flower was Sugawara's favorite; he expressed his admiration in a poem at age five. Around mid-February to early-March during the plum festival season, you may be able to see 1,100 plum trees in full bloom.
Purchase charming local sweets as gifts
Cookies 1,650 yen
Before or after your visit to the shrine, you can walk around the city and do more sightseeing. If you are looking to get something to take home, stop at Umeterasu. This tourist-friendly facility serves as an information center and souvenir shop. You can buy plum-infused sweets and tea, as well as "幸せますShiawasemasu" brand goods. Shiawasemasu is a phrase commonly used in the Hofu area and roughly translates as "I appreciate your kindness". Various Shiawasemasu goods are available here, such as lucky charms, stationery and mugs.
Those who have a soft spot for cute things can check out the miniature icing cookie set. Each cookie shape represents a specialty of Yamaguchi Prefecture, such as plums, blowfish and kawarasoba (a colorful noodle dish that’s heated on a roof tile). You can even find a cookie shaped like Yamaguchi Prefecture (Hofu is written in Japanese in the middle). The design of these cookies changes seasonally.
Try a local delicacy tamagokakegohan for lunch
Tamagokakegohan (also known as TKG) is a popular Japanese comfort food consisting of rice topped with a raw egg. Inspired by a TV drama about a Hofu-based couple who loved TKG , many restaurants offer a unique twist on this classic dish. The Tentoteya Cafe offers a flower-like TKG "Umechan", which is decorated with ingredients like nori seaweed and pickled plum. Once you take a photo of this beautiful dish, you can mix the ingredients well and eat!
TKG "Umechan" 550 yen
"Tenzen" 600 yen
Check out the rainbow-colored float at Fucali
Cafe lovers and Instagrammers should make a stop at the stylish cafe Fucali, which is a 10-minute walk from Hofu Station and recognizable thanks to a round blue sign on the Ginza shopping arcade. The cafe's hip aesthetics are held together by dark blue walls and rustic wooden furniture. The first floor is occupied by six counter seats and six table seats while the second floor is dedicated to families with small children.
Rainbow-colored float 550 yen
The cafe’s specialty is a rainbow-colored float that is available in seven colors (550 yen incl. tax). Each color features a different flavor, so it's fun to order this iconic beverage with a group of friends.
berry parfait 800 yen
You can also try their berry parfait (800 yen), which features a delectable combination of sour-sweet berries and milky soft serve or opt for a flavor-rich cappuccino (550 yen) that is served with cute latte art.
Cappuccino 550 yen
Embrace the history, local gourmet dishes and sweets of Hofu
From its prestigious shrine to the local specialties and an Insta-worthy cafe, Hofu is a city filled with old and new charms. Destinations such as the cat island of Noshima, the Mori Residence’s stunning gardens, and the observatory of Ohirayama Sancho Park are also recommended if you want to explore this fascinating city.