Fukuoka and Dazaifu (Golden Week!)
Today, Katiya and I took a day trip to Dazaifu, a town located south of Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. Known primarily for its shrines, the Kyushu National Museum, and umegaemochi, it’s a quaint little place filled with history and charm. From Ijiri Station, it’s a relatively short train ride away.
Ijiri Station ahead!
As usual, I kept stopping to take random photos. This little planter garden was cute! Also, notice how the door says “Hair Make”? I’m 99% sure it’s a salon, since “make” is short for “makeup” in Japanese. There are many salons in Japan! Everywhere I went I was surprised to pass by so many.
There’s something really neat about getting to watch the train follow its path.
There is a train specifically designed to promote Dazaifu that is decorated with the four seasons, and the inside is even decorated with what mimics colorful wallpaper.
Once we left the station, we decided to go back inside and get some maps. XD I also took some photos of these handy guys here:
Then we headed down the nearest street that led to Tenmangu shrine.
This shopping street is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and sweets shops.
You could spend the entire day just on this street checking out everything, but there are plenty of duplicates among the shops. We stopped first to pick up some omiyage, so we could relax on the way back. (This turned out to be a good idea, because we were quite tired later!)
Next, we stopped to try some umegaemochi. IT IS SO DELICIOUS. (This place, Tenzan Sweets, seemed the most popular.)
Taking our time heading towards the shrine, we took tons of photos as we meandered through the side streets.
Once satisfied, we returned to the shrine entrance and watched people lining up to rub a “lucky” bull statue.
Beyond was a beautiful garden surrounding a pond.
All the leaves were such a bright green!
The dense crowd slowly moved its way over the red, arched bridges. I actually enjoyed the pace, because it gave me plenty of opportunities to take photos while inching along.
It’s the same tree grass stuff from Hiroshima! XD
This guy was just sitting by himself, feeding pigeons. I kept snapping photos, hoping I’d catch something neat.
And I did! 8D I’m ridiculously happy lol.
At last, we reached the shrine. I immediately thought how similar the gate looks to the big Asakusa shrine gates…
Inside the shrine area, I watched sadly as people tossed their offering money in, clapped their hands together, and bowed to pray.
A shrine maiden was inside the shrine itself, waving something over a row of seated patrons, which was evidently a sort of blessing. It reminded me of the Catholic custom of the priest sprinkling the congregation with water.
So many colors!
This looks like a museum, probably holding the history of the shrine somewhere inside. I managed to catch a photo of this guy walking inside before he vanished into the shadows.
This was the longest row of ema (wooden boards on which you write prayers) I saw during my time in Japan.
Katiya and I found a way out around the back of the shrine, where we found related objects in its periphery.
We wandered through a winding path lined with more restaurants and cafes, until we came to an area map.
Climbing the many steps to the next shrine was somewhat grueling with my still-sore feet and always-heavy bag, but the vivid-green scenery was so beautiful.
I took this photo when I realized that this torii had writing on it.
Proof of electricity in the mountains!
They seem to have made a little channel for water to flow down, which is cool!
By this point I started to feel like these little shrines were like hidden grottoes on Pokemon, where you get a badge for finding all of them. ^^;
On the way back down, we found the children’s amusement park, and adjacent to it was the entrance to the Kyushu National Museum—so we happily ducked inside to hide from the heat.
After a couple of escalators, we came to a moving pathway that was illuminated by rainbow lights, known as the Rainbow Tunnel. It’s honestly not that impressive, but it makes the trip through the tunnel a little more unique.
On the other side, you exit the doors to return to the outside world, and pass a restaurant before heading into the museum itself.
Admission was ¥430, and staff directed us to which escalators to take – right up to the fourth floor, which housed the main exhibit. Before entering the exhibit, we rented audio guides (free; English for me and German for Katiya) and pretty quickly got separated, because I take my time when going through museums. To my surprise, although English is offered in some item explanations, the bulk of the items had only an English name (ex. “clay pot”) and certainly the lengthier texts, such as that found with transcriptions of old journal pages, were only in Japanese.
No photos are allowed in the exhibit rooms, but it was definitely cool. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in Japanese history!
Having finally finished around 1 PM, I exited the exhibit hall and waited on a lower floor, thinking Katiya might still be looking at the exhibits. Meanwhile, I checked my pocket wifi (which had died earlier and needed a recharge from my portable battery). Turning it on, my phone immediately lit up with notifications—it turned out that she had been done with the exhibits an hour earlier than me, and was too hungry to keep waiting, so she had left to go find food.
I messaged her saying that I would just eat in the museum cafe since I had brought my lunch, and then I would go find her afterwards.
Behold the reason my bag was so heavy.
Thankfully, it wasn’t too difficult to find her; after exiting through the Rainbow Tunnel, I simply turned left and followed the main road through a covered shopping street filled with more restaurants and souvenir shops. I arrived back to where we’d started: around the pond and passing by the “lucky” bull.
Once we were reunited, we went back to the sweets shop where we got the umegaemochi so I could buy some for souvenirs. Katiya bought a vanilla ice cream cone, and after a pit stop near the station (which was gross—never again) got on our train and returned to Sharely Style, tired but pleased with the day.
I don’t look tired at all! (sarcasm)
About traveling during Golden Week: I didn’t really notice a difference in the number of people on the train, but I definitely noticed when we got to Dazaifu. Man, it was packed. Actually, most of the tourists seemed to be Chinese or Taiwanese, and in some sort of tour group.
It makes for a great day trip though! If you don’t mind taking your time, and don’t mind people being in your photos (I don’t, because I can use their poses for drawing reference later, muahaha) then coming during GW or high tourist season isn’t bad at all.