Summer festival at Dazaifu-Tenmangu! Sentomyo and Nagoshi-odori.

summer festival

Dazaifu-Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮) is the shrine local people often visit in Fukuoka. The ritual of “Nagoshi-Harae (夏越祓え)” takes place every year on July 24, 25 at this shrine. This shrine ceremony is carried out to celebrate the birth of *Sugawara-no-Michizane (菅原道真公) , and also to pray for spending the summer safely without illness or accident. (*Sugawara-no-Michizane. Politician, scholar of the Heian era. At present, known as “Tenjin (天神)”, believed as god of learning from the Edo period.)

About Dazaifu-Tenmangu, please check the previous article in my blog. One day trip for Dazaifu and Yanagawa (Part 2) Dazaifu-Tenmangu shrine and Umegae-mochi

“Chinowa-kuguri ” ceremony of the shrine, and some other events are also carried out on both days. “Chinowa-kuguri (茅の輪くぐり)” is the main ritual of “Nagoshi-Harae”. This ritual is performed to drive away the evil spirits and people pass through the big ring placed in front of a shrine. This “Chinowa-kuguri” is an important ritual that takes place in shrines of Japan.

Photo by t_kawaji2010

Photo by t_kawaji2010

“Sentomyo (千灯明)” is also held in the evening on 25th. “Sentomyo” is the old ceremony that started from year 1101 to comfort the spirit of “Fujiwara-no-Michizane”. “Tomyo (灯明)” is basically a candle fire and it is one of the things dedicated to the Gods and Buddha in Buddhism. “Tomyo” is said to be “Wisdom of light that illuminates the darkness” from old time in Japan. (In Japanese, Sen(千) means a thousand. So “Sen-Tomyo” means one thousand candles)

Let’s see the festival at Dazaifu-Tnmangu!

To visit Dazaifu-Tenmangu shrine, I used a train and a bus this time. Because the direct bus from Hakata station is not operated after 4:00 p.m, we have to travel by train and bus if we visit here in the evening. Please check at the access information at the bottom of this page.Nishitetsu Dazaifu station

Heading to Dazaifu-Tenmangu after arrived at Nishitetsu-Dazaifu station (西鉄太宰府駅). “Tomyo” (candles) has been already lit on the way toward the shrine.s-P7250435 s-P7250436

The shop of Umegae-mochi (梅が枝もち). Umegae-mochi is a famous sweets of Dazaifu. Shops also seem to open until late than usual during the period of the festival.Umegae-mochis-P7250438

When I approached the precincts of the shrine, it was crowded with a lot of people.s-P7250439 s-P7250442

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I arrived 8:00 p.m. there, and “Sentomyo” was just going to be started. The light (candles) devoted to Tenjin (It is another name of Fujiwara-no-Michizane in this case) was lit little by little.Sentomyo s-P7250450

1,000 candles were lit and made a fantastic atmosphere. As I mentioned it before, a thousand is called “千;sen” in Japanese. And because there are a thousand of Tomyo (candles), this ritual is literally called Sen-Tomyo (千灯明).s-P7250445s-P7250468

People wearing Yukata (It’s an informal summer Kimono) started to gather in the square for the “Nagashi-odori (夏越踊り; Nagoshi-dance)”. It is the beginning of Nagoshi-odori, which also serves as a yukata contest. This Nagoshi-odori rather than a ritual, it seems more close to the event of the festival.s-P7250452

People who wear Yukata and not wearing, adults and children, all the people dance together in a circle. s-P7250455Nagoshi odori

Everyone was nervous at first, but they performed pretty good and were having fun in the end.s-P7250460s-P7250475

Summer festival at Dazaifu-Tenmangu information
Event date & hours: July 24th; 2 p.m. to 9:10 p.m./ July 25th; 11 a.m. to 9:10 p.m.
Address: 818-0117 福岡県太宰府市宰府4-7-1 / 4-7-1 Dazaifu, Dazaifu shi, Fukuoka 818-0117
Access: From Hakata station (JR博多駅): Use JR Kagoshima main line (JR鹿児島本線) to JR Futsukaichi station (JR二日市駅). Take Nishitetsu bus (or walk 1km, 12 min) to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi station(西鉄二日市駅). Then use Nishitetsu Dazaifu line(西鉄大宰府線) and get off at Nishitetsu Dazaifu station(西鉄大宰府駅).
From Nishitetsu Tenjin station (西鉄天神駅): Use Nishitetsu Omuta line(西鉄大牟田線) to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi station(西鉄二日市駅). Then change the train to Nishitetsu Dazaifu line(西鉄大宰府線) and get off at Nishitetsu Dazaifu station(西鉄大宰府駅).
Note: There is a case to be canceled in case of bad weather. Please check the Dazaifu Shrine website for the detailed schedule.

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