Monday, July 4, 2016

Fukuoka in Five - From Hakata Station to Hakozaki-gu

On a free morning in Fukuoka, I decided to take off and visit the Hakozaki-gu, a shrine located in Higashi ward very near the city. 

Since I had the JR Kyushu Pass, I decided to take the JR train from Hakata Station.  To go to the shrine,  take the local JR Kagoshima line headed towards Mojiko.

The train was nice and comfortable -- too bad it was just a 5 minute ride!

I got off at Hakozaki Station, just two stops away from Hakata Station.

As you pass the turnstile,  there's a prominent sign that tells you which exit leads to the shrine. 

A map gives clear directions on how to get to Hakozaki-gu from the station.

There were cabs waiting in line outside  but since it didn't seem too far, I  decided  to walk.

After nearly wilting through a more than ten minute walk under the hot sun -- I wished I had taken
a cab!   It was such a relief to finally come to the crossing with a  sign pointing to the shrine.

Cross the street and head towards the small road.  The shrine is just a hundred meters away.

The first sign that you've reached Hakozaki-gu is this wall, with the five lines that denote a
temple or shrine of supreme importance.  I didn't realise this was actually the car park entrance
to the shrine. 

Because I didn't know any better, I sauntered through and found myself almost at the side of
the shrine.  I therefore missed out on the "dramatic entrance" that I would have seen if I had just
walked on for another hundred meters or so.

For those who bring their cars (and for unwitting pedestrians like myself) there is a temizuya for performing the purification ritual.

Here is the main road leading to Hakozaki-gu, it extends all the way to Hakata Bay.
If you enter through the front gate, you will see this wide avenue with the torii lined up
in the distance.  Perhaps during cooler spring days, it would be nice to approach the shrine
from the Bay and walk underneath the flowering sakura or cherry blossom trees.

Even if I sort of "cheated" by entering the side gate and making my way to the front, the 
entrance was still quite an imposing sight.  This is the Ichino torii, a stone torii and an 
Important Cultural Property.  Founded in the 10th century,  Hakozaki-gu is one of the three major Hachiman Shrines in Japan. 

The temizuya at the front entrance has a rather odd shape -- I thought it looked like a large 
cement casket.  Water to purify yourself continuously flows from taps or faucets. 

The shrine is impressive and is definitely one of the must see places in Fukuoka.  In front of the main gate is a building used as the shrine office -- I got a seal for my shuin cho there and also picked up some shrine souvenirs.

This is the grand two story Sakuramon, the gate in front of the main hall of Hakozaki-gu and 
another Important Cultural Property.   The base of the gate is much smaller than the spectacular second story.  On the top, you will see a plaque with gold calligraphy stating "Tekikoku kufuku" 
or "surrender of the enemy nation".  This shrine was an important protector of the country during 
the Mongol invasion in the 12th century. 
Do you see the pine tree in front of it, inside the red fenced area?  It is said that the placenta of 
the Emperor Ojin whose spirit is the guardian deity of this shrine, is planted underneath this 
tree.   For those who know about shrines and power spots and believes in them, I suppose this would
be the main power spot here in Hakozaki-gu.

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