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
Barrier for Masakado? There are seven main shrines (including “Kubi-zuka”) for Masakado. They are said to have been built to seal the powerful spirit of Masakado as well as to make use of it. [1. Torigoe shrine] It is not officially admitted, but this shrine is said to be the place where Masakado’s hand(s?) is […]
Large numbers in Japanese : Thousand to quadrillion From thousand to quadrillion, the common units you hear in everyday life in Japan including in the news. As I wrote in the previous post, for digits over ten, “4” is always read as “yon” and “9” as “kyuu”. “7” is generally “nana”. For bigger numbers than […]
When I watch foreign TV dramas, I sometimes see Christian people praying before meal. It seems that the prayer is to appreciate God who have given them food. In Japan, maybe Christians do the same, but I guess most of people say certain phrases before and after dinner instead of a prayer. If you love […]
In Japanese, there are many ways to call yourself. Here, I’m trying to explain the differences of each word, but please note they are my own personal impressions and other Japanese may not feel the same way. The word “I” in Japanese Although we have many words for “I”, it is frequently omitted. If you […]
Roll up for the mystery tour! This one can be categorized as an urban legend as well. Masakado no Kubi-zuka (The burial mound for Masakado’s head) Quick History Taira no Masakado is said to be one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan. There are some novels about Masakado, and “Teito Monogatari” […]
“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 […]
The following titles are commonly used casual Japanese honorific titles and very rarely used titles. Never ever use any of these to higher ranking people or your customers unless you are very close to the person. If you are not so sure which title to use to somebody, the person’s family name with “san” is […]
One to ten in Japanese 2 In this post, I’m going to write minor version of one to ten in Japanese. I doubt if this is introduced in Japanese textbooks for foreign people. This is still used, but rather rare I guess. Also, it’s less favourable in the formal conversations or texts. Minor ways to […]
Old-fashioned / historical “I” in Japanese The following “I” pronouns are well-known and can be quite often heard / seen in historical stories especially those which are set in the Edo period. But, these are rarely used in the present time. Neutral [Temae] “Temae” literally means “before hand(s)”. The near side of someone / something. […]
The rest of “Iroha-uta”, line by line Line 3 From a Buddhism thought, “Free from living and dying(, by entering Nirvana)”. [First half] Meaning: The deep mountain called life, “Ui” is also a Buddhism word. It means “every thing and phenomenon which comes from various karma(, always lives and dies and never lasts forever)”. Some […]