Go west : Sugawara no Michizane – Legends
There are mysterious legends around Sugawara no Michizane.
Most of them are episodes after he was framed by his political enemy.
Michizane and the flying plum tree
This legend is very well-known along with the following poem.
The night before he left his home in Kyoto, the capital at that time, he composed a poem to a plum tree in the garden.
When the east wind blows,
bring your scent to me, you plum tree.
Although your master (Michizane) is absent,
never ever miss the spring to come.
In the “Tobi-ume” (lit. “Flying plum tree”) legend, the tree is said to have flown over to Michizane’s residence in Dazaifu in one night, longing for its master.
After the shrine “Dazaifu Tenman-guu” was built, the plum tree was moved there.
You can still see the tree in the shrine.
– Not Flying Object version –
There is a different story (with several variants) about this plum tree.
It’s not famous as the legend and nothing mysterious.
After Michizane left Kyoto, a person who admired Michizane followed him to Dazaifu with a nursery plant (or root) of the plum tree.
Michizane couldn’t tell others that it was brought from the central where he was expelled.
Instead, he said it flew to him.
I’ve never heard of this story until I did some researches on internet to write this post.
Michizane and an ox (or cow?)
There are several ox-related stories, and probably the most famous one is the following:
Michizane left the will about where his body should be buried.
It was like this:
“Let an ox pull a cart with my body, and let it go as it wants without anybody leading it.
Bury my body where it stops.”
People complied with his will.
The ox walked towards east, then stopped at some place, lay down there and didn’t move further.
So, his body was buried there in 903.
In 905, a shrine dedicated to him was built on the spot.
Then in 919, the more proper shrine was built under the order from the emperor.
A few of less known stories are:
- Michizane was born in an ox year (845, on June 25) and died on the day of ox, February 25 in 903 (This “ox” date stuff comes from Chinese Zodiac).
- On the way to Dazaifu, Michizane was attacked by an assassin.
Then, a white ox came out and stabbed the assassin in his belly to save Michizane.
I guess you can see that oxes are belived to be very special and deeply linked with Michizane whether those stories are true or not.
In the shrine, there are many ox statues.
Michizane praying “Live long and prosper” for the nation under the emperor
There is a mountain called “Tenpai-zan” (lit. “Worshipping the heaven mountain”) in Fukuoka.
(Originally it was called as “Tenpan-zan” (lit. “The heaven’s judgement mountain”.)
In a legend, Michizane cleansed himself for a hundred days in a very small waterfall “Shitou no taki” (lit. “Waterfall of purple wisteria) beside “Buzou-ji” which is said to be the oldest temple in Kyushu island.
Then he went to the top of the mountain near the waterfall and prayed for the nation and the day to come when his innocence would be proved, for seven nights and days.
He finally received a message from god, written as “Tenman-jizaiten-jin”, which was a title as god.
There seems to be hot springs in this area.
Maybe I should have stayed there not in Hakata.
Probably it is better to get off at the JR Futsuka-ichi station to get there by train, than the JR Tenpai-zan station.
In spite of the episodes that he still prayed for the emperor and the nation in Dazaifu, he became one of the most feared spirit after his death.
I’m going to write about his fierce vengeance in the next post.
#Dazaifu (1: General Info)
(2: Michizane – general)
(4: Michizane – vengeance)
(5: Michizane – Tenman-guu)
(6: Dazaifu – to the main shrine)
(7: Dazaifu – the main shrine and around)
(8: Dazaifu – Kyushu National Museum)
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
What’s your blood type? – For most people, the only reason that they ask this question to others is that when they’ll be needing blood (no, not that vampire-ish type of need) for blood transfusion when something bad happens, that person may be able to help if they are compatible. But in Japan and other […]
I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]
Many of Japanese honorific titles in text are the same as ones in speech. However, “sama” or “dono” is much more often used in text, especially for address. Maybe it’s because a writer is in the distance. In a letter, use the same title as one in speech. When I write a letter to my […]
The final post about numbers in Japanese. Number over quadrillion Numbers over “chou” (trillion to quadrillion) are quite rarely used. You may hear the following unit “kei” sometimes, but numbers over the unit “kei” won’t be seen in usual life. I’ve never seen it myself even in the news and I actually can’t name units […]
Old Japanese Alphabets or Historical Japanese Alphabets The two red characters in “gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta” are out of use now. Both characters had their own sounds consisting of a consonant and a vowel, but each of them changed into the same sound as a vowel which has a similar sound. Although they couldn’t be distinguished […]
After Michizane’s death in 903, people, who were involved with the conspiracy to frame him, died in a mysterious death one after another. Also, there were natural disasters in Kyoto. Victims of vengeance by Sugawara no Michizane Year: Person 906: Fujiwara no Sadakuni (Age: 40) 908: Fujiwara no Sugane (Age: 53) He reported to the […]
“Kitano Tenman-guu” in Kyoto to console Michizane In 942, Michizane’s spirit showed up before a girl from a poor family in Kyoto and ordered to build a shrine for him in “Ukon no baba” (“hippodrome controlled by the right guard office”), the place where he often visited during his life. Of course she didn’t have […]
“Iroha-uta” as a poem I’m going to explain the meaning of the poem in two posts. As I wrote in the previous post, it is thought to be composed in the Heian era (794 – 1185). In the major theory, the poem is said to express a doctrine from the Nirvana Sutra. But the poem […]
Go-chisou sama (deshita) This phrase is said after meal. It expresses appreciation to people who prepared or cooked the meal. “Chisou” literally means “running around”. The Kanji character for “chi” means “run fast” or “travel fast on horseback / by car”. The “sou” character means “run”. People used to run around (or ride around on […]
Numbers in Japanese : Zero and over ten to hundreds Zero and from 11 to 999. Zero in Japanese “Zero” or “Rei”. “Zero” from English, and “Rei” from Chinese. The pronunciation of “rei” is almost the same as English “lay”. Both are very commonly used, and generally considered as the same meaning. In fact, they […]