As previously mentioned, the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine was built in honor of Sugawara Michizane. He was a famous poet and scholar who was thought to be a god of learning.
When he passed away, an ox carried his body to the place where the shrine currently sits. The ox refused to move, signifying that Michizane wanted to be buried at that location. Thus, he was buried by one of his followers, and the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine was constructed over his grave. Today, there is a statue of the ox that carried him (pictured) at the front of the shrine. Visitors can rub its golden nose for good luck. Furthermore, it is believed that one of the plum trees in the shrine is the original plum tree Michizane would write poems to as child. The plum tree was said to have flown over from grief over parting with Michizane.
Not familiar with the customs of the shrine, such as the procedure for washing hands and mouth with the provided water (pictured) or for praying after throwing the monetary offering, many of us felt embarrassed or out of place. One of our Kakehashi TOMODACHI Inouye scholars drank the water because it did not feel right spitting it out below the fountain. Still, the beautiful landscaping and architecture of the shrine (pictured below) helped us feel at peace as we tried to follow the correct procedures to the best of our abilities.
We all enjoyed reading our fortunes, good or bad, and purchasing good luck charms to aid our health, studies, and driving safety. Unexpectedly, it started pouring and the cold rain briefly turned into hail (pictured below)! Many of us had never experienced hail before, so this was surely a one-of-a-kind experience.
The road leading to the shrine was lined with a myriad of souvenir shops. We all happily shopped for omiyage to bring home to our family and friends on our way down from Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine. Thus, we left with soggy socks, heavy bags, and peaceful minds.