Growth Chart for My Little Ones

Sunday, July 25, 2010

9 Jul 2010 - Fukuoka Day 7: Dazaifu City

We searched through the internet to see if there is any interesting place around Fukuoka and Dazaifu City came out of the list. To get there, we took Nishitetsu Railway line from Tenjin and change to another train on Dazaifu line at Futsukaichi Station. After we alighted at Futsukaichi station, we saw another train across the platform. Somehow we felt that it was the correct train to Dazaifu but sad to say, we were wrong. After a few stations, we finally realized we were on a wrong train. So we quickly got off at the next station and took the opposite train back to Futsukaichi.

Dazaifu was established in the late 7th century and served as the administrative center of the entire island of Kyushu for over 500 years. The city was built slightly inland from Hakata, whose port was one of the main points of interaction between Japan and mainland Asia. Today, Dazaifu is a small, quiet city on the outskirts of the large city of Fukuoka, from which it is perfect for a day trip. There are a number of temples and shrines in the area, the most famous of which is the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.

From the station to Tenmangu Shrine, we passed through a street with shops on both side of the pavement. These shops sell many unique stuffs and there are some cute figurines at the shopfront.
The first place that we went to is of course Tenmangu Shrine.
The shrine is rather large, stretching about 250 meters from one end to the other. After passing through the torii gate at the entrance, visitors will come across a pond that was built in the shape of the Japanese character for "heart".
Jerlene and Javier enjoyed feeding the Koi and tortoise in the pond.
Jerlene by then is already an "experienced" visitor to traditional Japanese shrine. The moment she saw the fountain of water under the shelter, she knew exactly what to do. :-)
Komyozenji is a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect of Japanese Buddhism that is located just south of Dazaifu's famous Tenmangu Shrine. The temple was founded in the middle of the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) by a disciple of the founder of Kyoto's Tofukuji Temple and belongs to the Tofukuji school of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.
Komyozenji's main attraction is its beautiful Japanese gardens. The temple has two abstract rock gardens that visitors can admire, a front garden and a rear garden. The front garden is the smaller of the two and is composed of fifteen rocks laid amongst a plot of raked pebbles. The rocks are distributed so that they form the Japanese character for "light".
The rear garden can be viewed from the main temple building. It is larger, and incorporates a lot of plant life in addition to its stones and pebbles. The garden's moss patches, rocks and pebbles are laid out as an abstract representation of large land and water bodies.
While we were admiring the garden at the back of the temple, Jerlene wanted to play with my camera. So I asked her (not seriously) to take a picture for mommy and daddy. I did not expect her to be able to do it but to our surprise, she managed to take it pretty steadily. In fact, she was able to position us well in the photo (see below). Too bad I only discovered this at almost the end of the trip. Anyway from this moment onwards, whenever you see pictures with both Tracy and myself in it, it is most likely taken by Jerlene.

On the Dazaifu city map, it states that Kanzenonji Temple is just a 20 mins walk from Dazaifu station. However, we took more than half an hour to reach there. This temple, unlike Tenmangu Shrine, was totally empty.
Next, we continue to walk towards the Government Office ruins. This is the place where a large complex of government offices was constructed to administer the island. It were eventually destroyed once Dazaifu lost political influence, and today the area serves as a public park. Nonetheless, the foundations of buildings allow visitors to imagine the scope of the Dazaifu government office as it stood over a thousand years ago.

We left Dazaifu at about 4:30pm as we wanted to rush back to Hakata to catch the Yamakasa festival. From the government ruins, we walked to the nearest train station and took the train back to Tenjin.
After we alighted at Tenjin, we immediately walked towards Kushida Shrine where the festival is held. As the event has not started, we spent sometimes walking around the shrine.

At one corner, there was a stage where performance started at 7pm. Half way through the performance, we suddenly heard some shouting coming from the road. I quickly went over and get ready to take pictures of the event.
As I've mentioned in my earlier posts, Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival is held every year from 1-15 July. Today, which is 9 Jul, it's a day called Oshioi-tori. On this day, along with the men who will actually carry the float, about a thousand people ranging from infants to the elderly run to Hakozakihama beach in groups by their nagare, performing this ceremony of purification and carrying home purified sand. They ended their run at Kushida Shrine. Glad that we were able to catch this event, which is held only once a year.

As the sky turned dark, the exterior of Kushida Shrine was beautiful with all the lantern lighted up.

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