Friday, April 20, 2012

All the Dazaifu lives

Towards the end of my Korea trip, I got pretty bored of shrines, temples and other commemorative red structures built to honour dead people or gods or whatever, so Shinto shrines weren't at the top of my priority list in Japan. But like Bulguksa, the proximity of a semi-famous shrine seemed worth a day trip from Fukuoka to Dazaifu, especially as the place is apparently dedicated to a scholar, rather than a pretend guy or a real guy who was just great at killing people.

If the public figures of Japan's Heian Period were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sugawara Michizane would be their Donatello. Actually, he'd probably be their Splinter, considering Splinter was actually Japanese. Or at least Hamato Yoshi was, before radioactive mutagen fused him with an American sewer rat and he became Splinter. Though in the film version, Splinter was a Japanese rat owned by Hamato Yoshi who later became man-size - what was that about? Why did these 'ninja' Turtles have Italian names anyway? What the hell were we watching?

Anyway, I enjoyed the shrine, though probably not for the reasons I was supposed to.

Tenmangu Shrine

Sorry, I normally wait patiently or strategically crop out the tourists from my photos,
but this place was far too popular

Main hall or honden (1591), supposedly built on the site of Sugawara Michizane's grave.
I have no reason to doubt that

Tobiume plum tree, which supposedly magically uprooted itself and flew the distance from Kyoto to Dazaifu when it learned of Michizane's exile. I have reason to doubt that


Apparently I came at exactly the right time to see the plum trees in bloom,
so you get some pretty flower photos

I still like ducks

Komyozenji Temple and some oranges

Zen rock garden, apparently.
When you hear someone say 'that's very Zen,' this is what they mean: some rocks on gravel

A shrine to art? I can get behind that

Some other nice shrine

Some kind of grotto

You wait 26 years to see one of these things, then 614 come along at once.
I think this was the inspiration for that Amiga screensaver where you fly through the shapes

I don't know

More things I don't understand.
Let's not get too bogged down in details and just enjoy the ride

Speaking of rides, do you know that feeling you get when you unexpectedly come across a theme park in the middle of nowhere? I do now

And those shadows between the leaves, they're a very dark green aren't they? Very dark in fact, almost... black. Yes... yes, I shall need to get the black out...

I followed Wikitravel to the letter and tried umegaimochi, a plum-filled rice cake.
Forgetting that I don't like fruit in any form that isn't an ice lolly

Konnichi wa, kids!
I'm Ollie Octopus, and I'm here to encourage you to eat my tasty, murdered brethren!

What is going on here?

Are those dead cats?

Don't try to understand Japan.
Just switch off and go to your happy place

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