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March 4, 2016

Ume Blossoms at Dazaifu Tenmangu

What do you do with a day off in early March in Japan? Make use of the brand new warm weather and take a trip to see the seasonal flowers, ume (plum blossoms). Dazaifu Tenmangu is a well known shrine throughout Japan, and one of Fukuoka's most famous. It enshrines Sugawara Michizane the god of learning and academic achievement; As such, many students visit Dazaifu before their exams to pray for good luck & good results.

We've visited Dazaifu Tenmangu many times over the years, but each time we go I am surprised afresh by how beautiful the place is. Today was no exception. 

Dazaifu is home to this famous Starbucks designed by Kengo Kuma. It stands in contrast to the neighboring souvenir and food shops that line the approach to the shrine from the station. There are over 2,000 wooden beams that form the lattice-like structure on both the interior and exterior of the Starbucks

Cute school children watch as umegaemochi are prepared. A popular local specialty of Dazaifu, umegaemochi is a type of rice sweet (mochi) filled with red bean paste, served warm.

Dazaifu is a famous plum-tree spot, and now is the perfect time for ume hanami (plum blossom flower watching) so we packed a little lunch and sat amongst the fragrant trees, soaking up the sun.

It's a lovely walk towards the main shrine building, along multiple bridges and through a grand torii gate.


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