The day trip to Dazaifu is a quick getaway from Fukuoka. It is located 16kms south of Tenjin Station so getting there will not require a lot of effort other than hopping on a train. A day will suffice cover all the goodness Dazaifu has to offer.
The trip starts at Fukuoka’s JR Tenjin Station. From here take the Omuta Line Limited express train, changing to the local Dazaifu Line at Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station which will take you to the day’s final destination a Dazaifu Station. Arriving at Dazaifu Station, you will be in central Dazaifu and at the “entrance” of the main tourist compound and the location of Tenmangu Shrine, Kyushu National Museum, and Komyozenji Temple; these are Dazaifu’s main attractions and where you’ll want to spend most of your time while in town. All these locations are within walking distance from the station.
Exiting the station, visitors are greeted by Dazaifu’s central shopping street. This lively pedestrian road leads up to Tenmangu Shrine. Along the way, you will be passing a variety of sweets and souvenir shops, so we recommend you to stop here to try umegae-mochi, a local specialty. Umegae-mochi is Dazaifu’s take on rice cakes, which is filled with sweet azuki bean paste and imprinted with the plum flower (ume in Japanese) hence the name. Once you have the mochi experience covered you are ready to visit the deity of education at the Tenmangu Shrine.
To get to the main shrine, walk past the sacred cow statues guarding the area and onto the charming Taiko Bridge. The arching shape of the bridge is meant to represent the past, present, and the future. As you walk across, you will start to feel the calmness of visiting a shrine. The bridge also offers a great photo opportunity of the shrine from a distance.
Across the bridge lies the main shrine, where Michizane Sugawara, a respected scholar during the 9th century, was deified. Students of all ages come to pray to the deity for success in their exams, and visitors in general come to ask for enlightenment. You can purchase colourful good luck charms that are available around the shrine, but if you really want to try your luck, look out for a red box filled with little fortune telling envelopes. You might also be able to catch a blessing ceremony where companies pay to receive the blessing from the shrine.
After Tenmangu Shrine, a walk through the lush gardens and winding water streams will get you to the museum entrance escalator. This is also the entrance to the futuristic rainbow tunnel leading up to the museum. At the museum, take the time to enjoy the enriching exhibition on Japanese history and its relation to other parts of Asia. Entrance is 430 yen, but you can still appreciate the architecture and its surrounding for free. On the way out, look back and take in the amazing view of the building as it blends with the mountain behind it.
Kyushu National Museum_rainbow tunnel
From the National Museum continue the walk back to Dazaifu Station but this time along Kokuhaku street. Before taking the train back to Fukuoka, make sure to stop at Komyozenji Temple to admire its pristine zen gardens to round up your trip.
Kyushu National Museum