DiscoverNature and the Seasons
The Life Force of the Shrine
The seasons are an intrinsic part of life at Dazaifu Tenmangu. At the end of winter, 6,000 plum blossoms burst into bloom, and their subtle scent drifts around the shrine. Spring brings clouds of cherry blossoms, followed by wisteria and azalea blooms, then fresh green leaves unfurl on the camphor trees, bathing the grounds in soft green light. The gardens provide cool shade in summer, accented by vivid purple irises. Bold displays of chrysanthemum flowers mark the start of autumn, as dragonflies dart around the ponds, under red and yellow leaves.
Visit Dazaifu Tenmangu between the end of January and early March to experience plum-blossom viewing in one of Japan's top plum locations. Stroll among the several thousand plum trees, donated from all over Japan. The white-petalled tobiume, said to have followed Sugawara Michizane from Kyoto, stands to the right of the honden, with a pink-petaled plum tree striking an elegant balance on the left. The tobiume famously blooms earlier than the other plum trees. Check before visiting for the latest seasonal information.
Explore the shrines, and mountain paths around Dazaifu Tenmangu in the spring for sublime cherry-blossom viewing. The area around Nakashima Shrine, a short walk from the main sanctuary, has many trees in a quiet wooded area often overlooked by visitors. You can also visit Kamado Shrine, the mountainside shrine on Mount Homan, with an approach lined with cherry trees. Look for other flowering trees like azalea and wisteria around the grounds of Dazaifu Tenmangu. Peak times for blossom-viewing vary, but usually fall between late March and mid-April.
Some 100 camphor trees grow on the grounds of Dazaifu Tenmangu, with the oldest over 1,500 years old. These huge trees, many of which have trunks with a circumference of over 10 meters, provide shade and greenery year-round. In May, the new leaves sprout and bathe the grounds in an energizing green. Some of the trees, such as the oldest next to the honden, and the pair of "wedded" trees behind the honden, which have grown together over time, are venerated as the dwellings of kami, Shinto deities. If you find a camphor leaf on the ground, rub it gently for the fragrant aroma of camphor oil.
Dazaifu Tenmangu’s iris pond, Shobu-ike, comes brilliantly to life in early June when 55 different species of iris begin to bloom. Carefully arranged bundles of white and purple blossoms form a mosaic of color mirrored in the surface of the water. The effect is slightly surreal and evokes early summer. The pond is behind Shinji-ike and the taiko-bashi bridges and to the side of the Dazaifu Tenmangu Museum. It is ringed by a path so you can stroll the perimeter to view the blooms from different vantage points.
Dazaifu Tenmangu celebrates Sugawara Michizane’s love of chrysanthemums each November, with a large scale flower exhibit called Kikkaten. A local chrysanthemum appreciation group donates the floral displays, showcasing the efforts of local chrysanthemum growers. Participants create a corridor of countless colors and types of chrysanthemum in beautiful arrangements, beginning in front of the main sanctuary.
Dazaifu Tenmangu draws visitors from across Japan with its autumn colors. The trees in and around the grounds retain their colored leaves until the early days of December, thanks to Fukuoka’s warm climate. That means visitors can enjoy a late autumn ambience long after the season has ended in other parts of the country. Look for the largest concentration of autumn colors in the area behind the honden enclosure. Seek out other wooded areas around the grounds and, if you have time, nearby hotspots like Kamado Shrine with its scenic setting on the slope of Mount Homan. The peak season for autumn foliage at Dazaifu Tenmangu lasts from mid-November to early December.