Sacred rites among sweet-scented blossoms
The Plum Blossom Ceremony is an important event held every year on February 25 to commemorate
the passing of Sugawara Michizane (845–903), the legendary scholar and master poet enshrined
and worshipped at Dazaifu Tenmangu.
Sugawara loved plum blossoms and he composed many famous poems inspired by the beautiful pink and white blooms. The Plum Blossom Ceremony pays tribute to Sugawara and his love for plum trees and their blooms.
The ceremony begins with prayers at the honden, or main sanctuary, at 11 a.m. The priests
then make an offering to Sugawara, who is deified as Tenjin, the deity of learning, culture,
and the arts. Shrine maidens continue the rituals with traditional dances to ancient Shinto
music while holding small plum branches.
Over 6,000 plum trees have been donated to Dazaifu Tenmangu as offerings to Sugawara, and by early February many of them have begun to bloom. This is a perfect time to visit Dazaifu Tenmangu and stroll the grounds.