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Dazaifu, Japan | Detour to a Pretty Town

“Wisteria season had ended & the park already closed down to tourists yesterday”, said the lady at the tourist desk in Fukuoka bus station. In an instant, I felt soaked in a bucket of ice. “Visit Dazaifu instead, it’s lovely there too.”

dazaifu

I traveled by plane all the way from Tokyo to Fukuoka for 2 things: to eat Hakata ramen & to connect to Kitakyushu for the wisteria flower tunnel. I was complacent that since it was still spring season, wisterias could still be in bloom.

So I skipped it on my first day & went on a food trip instead. I went to the bus station very early the next day to catch the first bus trip out to Kawachi Fuji Garden. But when I got there, I was told that all the flowers have wilted & the park was already closed to the public.

Detour to Dazaifu

dazaifu

I came for the wisteria & suddenly everything turned into hysteria. I have to admit that I was heartbroken for a while. I sat in a café & nursed my disappointment over a cup of coffee.

The lady on the tourist desk walked up to me & handed flyers of Dazaifu. I was hesitant to go. But when she sold the idea that I could find there the best udon noodle & some garden art, I became excited.

dazaifu

I boarded the bus & soon after I got to a town brimming with tourists. At first impressions, Dazaifu is a quaint town filled with countryside shops & classic Japanese homes.

The more I got deeper into its maze of gardens, temples & artisan stores, the easier it became for me to forget about the wisterias. Then I realized Dazaifu was a wonderful detour after all.

Here are what I found & wished I had more time.

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

dazaifu tenmangu shrine

Dazaifu along with Tokyo’s Kitano Tenmangu are the most important Tenmangu shrines all over Japan. It is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar & politician during the Heian Period.

This temple complex set in typical Japanese design is filled with plum & maple trees, ponds & bridges.

Komyozenji Temple

komyozenji temple

Komyozenji is a temple for Zen Buddhism in Japan. It is most popular for its serene gardens laden with assemblies of pebble & rock art. Many tourists flock here in November to admire its beautiful maple autumn leaves framing the gardens around the temple.

Kyushu National Museum

kyushu national museum

Quite different from the usual traditional Japanese architectures around Dazaifu, the museum is done in modern design of blue glass & steel. It houses many precious artifacts from pre-historic to the Edo Period.

Light Tunnel

dazaifu

The connecting tunnel between Tenmangu Shrine & Kyushu National Museum is one of the adored spots in this area. It is fitted with psychedelic lights creating the illusion of speed & the feeling of being thrown into a colorful universe.

Saifu Udon

saifu udon

Ask anyone in Dazaifu about udon noodle & chances are you’ll be directed to Saifu Udon. This tiny noodle house is so popular that customers had to queue. Come to this place early because diners easily spill to the streets.

Umegae Mochi

umegae mochi

Created first in Dazaifu, umegae mochi is a rice cake stuffed with sweet red bean. It is a popular snack here & a must-taste whenever in town.

dazaifu

I believe that things happen for a reason. And missing the wisteria tunnel might be all good because had it not happen, I wouldn’t have gone to Dazaifu. Of course, it’s still on my bucketlist & will try my luck next season.

-oOo-

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