Thursday, February 01, 2007
This past weekend I was in Fukuoka, and taking the advice of a Fukuokanian (?), I took the short train ride down to visit Dazaifu. The weather had been bleak and cold, but a watery sun winked on for a few moments in the late afternoon, casting about some of its warmth. This site is apparently on the grave for the exiled Michizane Sugawara, who is also known as the god of literature and calligraphy (and knowledge, according one site I saw on him). Maki sensei told me that students wear a charm of this god for "luck" with their studies.
I really like how you have to go through several stone "archways" and gate and then down this pathway flanked by plum ("ume") trees and lanterns before you get to the temple/shrine (I have to get someone to tell me the precise differentiation between the two. I think this is the shrine, though). It seems to be the pattern for shrines I've seen all over Japan. Moving through these physical gateways seems to help one move through the inner, intangible ones to prepare the heart and mind for being at the actual shrine itself.