Summer in Northern Kyushu Part 2: Dazaifu Temmangu Shrine

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Finally had the chance to blog again. I’ve been craving for this since last month! Waah. I’ve been off the internet for 2 weeks now because I had to prepare for my LOMA 290 examination, which I took yesterday. Fortunately, I passed the exam and got my LOMA Level 1 Certification :) Three more exams and I will get an Associate, Life Management Institute (ALMI) designation. If you are not familiar with LOMA, it is actually a certification exam that insurance people need to take to step up towards our professional designation. It can help us gain confidence, serve the customer effectively, and contribute to company success. #underwriting

Anyhow… I don’t want to bore you to death about insurance stuff, so let me share some of the photos I took during my visit to Dazaifu, a small city in Fukuoka Prefecture. Hope you enjoy!
 A stone torii gate, marking the entrance to the inner shrine of Dazaifu. 
How to get to Dazaifu? For JR Northern Kyushu Rail Pass holders, you can take the JR Kagoshima Line from JR Hakata Station to JR Futsukaichi Station. Then, walk to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station, where the Nishitetsu Dazaifu Line can be taken to Dazaifu Station. If you are a  Fukuoka Tourist City Pass holder, you have to take the subway from JR Hakata Station to Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station, which is directly beside Tenjin subway station. From there, take a train to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station, where a transfer can be made to the Dazaifu Line that leads to Dazaifu Station. The total journey takes 30-60 minutes.
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one of the unmanned train stations in Fukuoka
Dazaifu is a major tourist destination in Fukuoka, so it was not surprising to see many English signs and directions. Unfortunately for me, I got on the wrong train at Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station. I have no idea why I did not notice it at first. According to my English tourist map, it would only take 5 minutes to get to Dazaifu Station. I have already passed many stations and the train was heading to the countryside! When I reached this unmanned train station, I immediately got off and transferred to the other side to take a train back to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station. I don’t know if I am going to panic or what! Lol. Gotta laugh at yourself sometimes. :)
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the iconic Starbucks Store located at Dazaifu Tenmangu, designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
It took 90 minutes for me to reach Dazaifu. I wasted 30 minutes changing trains, but that’s okay I guess, because if you go to Japan you will get lost. It's virtually assured. Lol! In spite of this, I had a great time finding my way to Dazaifu without actually asking for help. Also, I will never be truly lost, for there will always be Japanese who will take extreme steps to get me going again. One of the many times I think that perhaps I was Japanese in my past life.
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You will only find torii gates at Shinto shrines, not at Buddhist temples. It is said that the purpose of the gate is to divide our world and the spirit world. 
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is about 1 kilometre away from Dazaifu Station. I did not have a hard time finding it because there were too many tourists that day, I just followed where they were going. The path that leads to the shrine was very commercialised but it was nice. I took plenty of photographs on the way. I took plenty of stops as well so I could rest and just people watch. 
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I have no idea if this was a shrine, house or storage room :(
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when you see a cool bridge, you photograph a cool bridge :)
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lots of tourists, both local and foreign, visiting Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
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A chōzuya or temizuya which is a Shinto water pavilion for ceremonial purification -  you are supposed to wash your hands and mouth before you enter a Shinto shrine
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A deer statue at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
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the pathway going to the shrine
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I did not know selfie sticks are still a thing today? lol
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Ema or wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes.
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My prime did not capture the whole Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine :( When will I ever get a wide-angle lens for my camera?!
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I saw this young man collecting coins from these shrines. I have no idea if he was a Shinto priests because if looks young! He must be an apprentice :)
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more Ema or wooden plaques at the back of the shrine
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the beautiful roof of Dazaifu - looks like the roof of the farmhouses in Shirakawa-go!
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"Into the further you go"
On my Dazaifu tourist map, I saw a torii path leading to the forest. I was afraid to go up at first because there were no other tourists in that area, but I decided to go with it. It was exciting and creepy at the same time!

I took my time going up the forest through this surreal vermillion path. I will always have a soft spot for Japanese torii gates, especially if they are the vermillion red wooden gates. Check out this video I uploaded on Instagram, you will see that I was alone in the forest. No one to ask to take a photo of me. Haha. Also on the video, you can hear the sound of cicadas, the sound of Japanese summer, which you are very familiar if you are an Anime fan like me. :)
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the resting area
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the cool bridge again!
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captured this while waiting for my Ramen at Ippudo Hakata
By the time I got back to JR Hakata Station, it was already 5 in the afternoon. I was extremely hungry because of all the walking I did that day. Good thing, I had my first bowl of Ramen at Ippudo Ramen located on the 10th floor of JR Hakata City. 
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Ippudo's Miso Ramen :)
The taste of Miso Ramen was divine! I don’t fancy thick Hakata-style noodles, but it was so good! It was chewy and resilient. The Ramen has rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth seasoned with Miso. It was quite different from the Ippudo Ramen we have in the Philippines.
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Awesome views at the top of JR Hakata City!
After I finished my bowl of Ramen, I went to JR Hakata City’s Tsubama-No-Mori-Hiroba (Roof Garden). This roof-top garden offers a stunning panoramic view of Fukuoka. It was easily my favourite place in Hakata! I love that there are plenty of places in the city where you can just relax and people watch. How I wish we also have many spots like this in the Philippines :(
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easily my favourite spot in Hakata!
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Japan's vintage looking taxis :)
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Hakata at night - it looked surreal!
So, that’s about it for day two! There’s a lot to see in Dazaifu, and I recommend a minimum of 2 hours to see most of its attractions and take quick pictures. Stay tuned on Project Gora because the next blog entires will get a lot more exciting! The post will be up in a few days/weeks, hopefully :)

Check out my other Northern Kyushu posts right here:

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