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Japan's Dazaifu Tenmangu Temple & a Most Unique Starbucks Coffee Store
Dazaifu Tenmangu Temple is one of Japan's largest. It occupies 3,000 acres and contains over 6000 plum trees from 167 varieties. It is built over the grave of Sugawara Michizane and is one of the main shrines dedicated to Tenjin. Michizane died in 903, and the main temple was built in 905 but the shrine tourists see now was built in 1591. It is one of the three Great Tenjin Shrines of Japan. Within a short walk is Japan's Kyushu museum in a stunning new building completed in 2005. It contains many national and rare treasures from the area and the nearby shrine.
Dazaifu, which is 30 min. from Fukouka, became a place of exile for court nobles, including the highly regarded poet and scholar Sugawara Michizane. After his death, the shrine was built after the area suffered from many natural disasters and the locals hoped to appease the Gods.
Tourists love the popular local specialties such as Umegae-mochi (sweet rice cake with bean jam) which is associated with the plum trees. If you are in Fukuoka and have an afternoon free, take the subway train to Dazaifu (the Nishitetsu Tenjin Omuta line) for a half an hour. The shrine area is just a five minute walk from the station. This shrine is active, meaning, it is a place of worship so as a tourist be careful as you walk around. The shrine entrance is deceptive because the entrance is lined with stores selling goods.
One of the hot spots there is the Starbucks Coffee store. It is well known for its unique and odd architecture that stands out from any angle. You have NEVER seen a Starbucks like this one! Yes, they sell the same things but it is the surroundings which are "out of this world".