Story-Composing Cultural Assets Dazaifu Plum Blossomes
In the Nara period, plum blossoms, which bloom in spring and emit a pleasant fragrance, were seen as new and elegant trees brought in from Tang China. A plum-blossom party was described in the Man'yoshu. Plum-blossom viewing became popular in Dazaifu as well. The image of plum blossoms came to be linked to Dazaifu and Dazaifu Tenmangu, with the Tobi-ume legend and Jomyo-ni legend especially, because of Sugawara no Michizane's lifelong affection for this flower. Even today, many people plant plum trees at their houses and a traditional event to donate plums to Tenmangu is held.
(The Tobi-ume (flying plum tree) legend has it that a particular tree yearned so much for Michizane that it flew overnight from Kyoto to reunite with him in Dazaifu. The one to the right of the Main Shrine is said to be this legendary tree.
The Jomyo-ni legend is a story about an elderly lady who took good care of Michizane, who was forced to lead an uncomfortable life in Dazaifu, by (for example) offering baked rice cakes skewered on a plum branch. This is said to be the origin of umegae-mochi, a famous specialty cake of Dazaifu.)
Tonokoga no Tobiume (Flying Plum in Tonokoga)
On the day Sugawara no Michizane was demoted to Dazaifu, he was composing a waka (Japanese style poem) about a plum tree in his garden.
His plum tree missed him so it flew to Dazaifu from Heiankyo (Kyoto). This is “Tobiume” (Flying Plum).
Later Tobiume was transplanted beside the main shrine building of Dazaifu Tenmangu and in the original place where the plum arrived, they planted its seed. This original place is called “Tonokoga no Tobiume” and it’s located close to Enoki-sha Shrine which is Michizane’s haisho (the place where a criminal is sent)
A grave of Kumamaro and six-petaled plum
Going about 150-meters east from Enoki-sha Shrine leads you to “Kumamaro’s grave” which is the grave of one of Michizane’s children who died in this land located on the top of the hill.
A plum tree by the side of the grave is known as a unique plum tree with six-petaled blossoms.