Dazaifu Tenmangu and Art
It might seem unusual to experience art in the traditional environment of a shrine, but Sugawara Michizane, enshrined at Dazaifu Tenmangu, is revered as the deity of learning, culture, and the arts. He was a master poet and calligrapher, and remains one of the nation's most renowned scholars, greatly influencing Japanese culture and society. Over the centuries, worshippers of the Tenjin faith have dedicated artworks to Sugawara, creating an invaluable collection at Dazaifu Tenmangu. The shrine has become a unique hub for creative minds. Art provokes deeper thought and helps us appreciate the unseen, by expressing abstract ideas in sensory form. Concepts of faith and belief can be understood through art, making Dazaifu Tenmangu the ideal place to explore these ideas.
The Dazaifu Tenmangu Art Program
For over 1,100 years, Dazaifu Tenmangu has been a center for cutting-edge contemporary art. Sugawara Michizane, the deity of learning, culture, and the arts, was a talented poet and thinker, inspiring and fostering generations of scholars and artists. Over the history of the shrine, the brightest talents have been drawn here to contribute to this legacy of culture and art.
Really shiny stuff that doesn’t mean anything, 2011
Courtesy of Taro Nasu, Tokyo
Concrete cast with wax hive, bee colony, orange tree (Daidai), plum tree (Tobiume descendant), plants, sand, stones, calico cat, ants, spider, butterfly, concrete pond with waterlilies (Giverny descendant), axolotl and insects.
Courtesy of the artist; Taro Nasu, Tokyo; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa
The Dazaifu Tenmangu Art Program has been created to continue this heritage, placing the shrine at the crossroads of history and the future. The artists who join the program create and exhibit works around the shrine and museum, producing thought-provoking treasures for generations to come.
The Dazaifu Tenmangu Museum Collection
The Dazaifu Tenmangu Museum's collection comprises more than 50,000 artworks, cultural treasures, and historic artifacts either uncovered at the shrine or dedicated to Sugawara Michizane over the course of the shrine’s history.
Poetry beautifully calligraphed by Sugawara himself features among the shrine’s many artworks, which include picture scrolls, antique samurai armor, fine ceramics, and sculptures. Delicate plum motifs decorate many of the treasures. Plum blossom was Sugawara’s favorite flower and the inspiration for some of his most famous poetry.