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There has been many political conflicts in the world. About 1100 years ago, a Japanese aristocrat scholor, Michizane Sugawara, gained the Emperor Uda’s confidence and got ahead in the Heian court, finally he reached the Junior Ministor (Udaijin) in the Daigo emperor’s reign. In 901, Michizane was relegated to a post of the “Dazaino-gonno-sochi” (administrative head of Daizaifu in Fukuoka) by the head ministor Tokihira Fujiwara. Michizane so loved Japanese apricot “ume” very much that he whispered a poem to his garden’s apricot tree before he left from Kyoto, “If the spring wind blows, you apricot tree! send your scent to me, don’t forget the spring without your owner.” (Kochi fukaba, Nioi okoseyo Umenohana, Arujinashitote Haruna wasureso.) Then his apricot tree fled from Kyoto to Fukuoka’s his new house for one night to give respect and admiration to his owner, so this tree was called flying apricot (Tobiume). Now, there is a Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine which enshrines Michizane Sugawara in Dazaifu, and Tobiume is in front of the main hall in the shrine (this tree’s age may be over 1000 year old), and it is very famous for many Japanese apricot trees in the shrine. Therefore this shrine’s symbol is apricot. You can find many apricot mark in the shrine.

After Michizane had been dead in 903 at Dazaifu, the huge thunderbolt struck a Emperor’s court and killed a man. People believed that Michizane had lamented over Tokihira and Fujiwara family to be dead, so Michizane became the God of thunder and a ghost of revenge to kill Fujiwara family. In fact, Tokihira soon died 39-year-old in 909. As time passed and memories of the disasters faded, ‘Tenjin-sama,’ who was enshrined in various parts of Japan to suppress curses, became worshipped as a god of literature since Michizane was a brilliant scholar as well as a poet. Now this Dazaifu Tenmangu is the head shrine of 12,000 Tenmangu shrines in Japan. Tenmangu is the God of literature, calligraphy or protector from fire. At the time for examination, a lot of students and candidats (and their parents) visit to pray their success.

Dazaifu Tenmangu (English)

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