20th July 2017: Dazaifu – not ready for thorough tourism {Japan, summer 2017}

Dazaifu [大宰府] was the neuralgic centre of the island of Kyushu between the 7th and the 12th century. Today is sort to Fukuoka what Nikko is to Tokyo. Nowadays it is mostly known for its temples and shrines. It has a central core close to the station where you get around quite easily and a few things off the way which… are an adventure to get to.

I started the day visiting Dazaifu Tenmangu [大宰府天満宮], which was crawling with tourists to the point that it was hard to walk at times. It is a big shrine with a huge bridge over a pond in the shape of 心.

Afterwards I got myself a bottle of water and climbed up to Tenkai Inari Jinja [天開稲荷神社] which would have been really, really awesome and creepy if I had been alone, but alas, there were a bunch of other tourists along. It was quite of a climb up so the number was fewer, which made it less crowded though.

After climbing down I wandered around and passed a tiny shrine on the bank of Aizome River [藍染川] the place of a rebirth of a woman named Umetsubo. There is also a small shrine and a “historical site.”

After this I reached Kōmyōzen-ji [光明禅寺], a Zen temple with a great garden, but no pictures were allowed, and you could not really walk through the gardens. However, it was much, much emptier and nicer.

It was now when I decided to head out to the Kanzeon-ji [観世音寺]…

… and Kaidan-in [戒壇院], along with the so called Bonsho Bell.

In order to get here the map sent me through rather bad roads, and it got scary for a second when a car was coming. Furthermore, the signposts were all messed up, making it hard to follow them and the map. But in the end I made it and even if I did not enter the museum, I felt accomplished.

On the other side of the road you could climb up to Hiyoshi Jinja [日吉神社], a tiny and quiet shrine on top of a hill that I really liked – I thought the kami would be bored so I dropped them a prayer too.

After all this I still had a few things left, but I was very tired and there was a storm brewing, so I backtracked to Fukuoka, where I had slept, gathered my luggage and was ready to take a train to my next destination when I unexpectedly met with a VAMPS fan friend, the same one D****e and I ran into at Kumamoto castle! Small world! We had ramen – Hataka ramen, of course – together and then I took the train towards my next destination, on the other side of Kyushu: Beppu.

Beppu [別府] is a small town on the side of a volcano known for its hot springs because it’s on the slope of a volcano named Tsurumi-dake [鶴見岳]. It has almost 3000 volcanic spring vents and it is a bloody amazing place!

I checked into the hotel and almost immediately walked out because the hotel was right next to Beppu Tower [別府タワー]. However I got distracted by Matogahama Koen [的ケ浜公園] and the beach and the breakwaters.

Finally I climbed up to the tower and looked around the city. I was a little disappointed because I was expecting to see some of the vents or at least a spark coming for the volcano, but it did not happen.

Afterwards I walked down to the hotel and spent an hour in the public bath that they had, which was really, really good for relaxing. And then I collapsed in bed and got some sleep because there was a big day the following day!

(I have to say here that I have decided to omit here most of the ‘blergh’ part of this trip in order to keep only the nice memories, thus the upcoming posts are a bit edited. So I’m not telling you about the unfriendly people I met in the way and that made me feel a bit sad. Just the friendly ones because they rock! )