Go west : Dazaifu and Sugawara no Michizane
Sugawara no Michizane is the person who is worshipped as god of study at the shrine, “Dazaifu Tenman-guu”.
“Sugawara” is the family name and “Michizane” is the first name.
He is also well-known as one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan, along with Taira no Masakado and Emperor Sutoku.
Life of Sugawara no Michizane
He was born into an academic family in 845 and known as a child prodigy.
It is said that he composed a “waka”, Japanese style poem at the age of five.
Oh, what beautiful
red, plum blossoms!
On my face,
I even want to wear them.
When he was eleven, he wrote a jueju style poem, consisting of four lines with five Kanji characters each.
(In Japanese, “jueju” is “zekku”.
And “gogon-zekku” is the name for the poem of four lines with twenty Kanji characters in total.)
This is the poem.
Title: “Looking at Japanese plum blossoms in a moon-lit night”
The moonlight are bright like snow in sunshine.
The plum blossoms look like shining stars.
How wonderful it is, as the golden mirror (moon) is moving,
for the garden to be filled with scent of plum blossoms.
Michizane passed exams to get promoted, and rapidly worked his way up.
After he served important posts in the court, he was designated as “U-daizin” in 899.
“U-daijin” literally means “Right Minister”.
It was the third top of “Daijyou-kan” next to “Daijyou-daijin” and “Sa-daijin” (“Left Minister”).
“Daijyou-kan” was the highest govenment body in the old times.
In 900, there was a party in “Seiryou-den”, the pavillion used as the Emperor’s habitual residence.
Michizane wrote a poem entitled as “Shuushi” (lit. “Thinking in autumn”) there, and Emperor Daigo was quite impressed by it.
The emperor took off one of his clothes and gave it to Michizane.
This moment is probably the height of his life.
At that time, there was a very powerful family, the Fujiwara.
Michizane was a pain in the neck for the family and many people felt jealous of him because they thought he went too far as a person from an academic family.
In the same year as the party was held, Michizane was advised to retire by a scholar, Miyoshi Kiyokuki (“Miyoshi” is the family name), but he refused.
Then in the following year, he was suddenly relegated to Dazaifu on the charge of an alleged conspiracy against the emperor.
The false appeal was made by “Sa-daijin”, Fujiwara no Tokihira.
During his miserable days in Dazaifu, he was thought to have prayed to god for peace and prosperity of the nation under the emperor as well as for the time to come when his name would be cleared, but he surely held a grudge against people who had framed him.
He left poems filled with negative feelings like sorrow or anger.
In 903, about two years after he spent moaning his severe fate in Dazaifu, he passed away.
Now, “Dazaifu Tenman-guu” is on the location where Michizane’s body is believed to have been buried.
There are several mysterious legends around him.
I’m going to write about them in the next post.
#Dazaifu (1: General Info)
(3: Michizane – legends)
(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
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” […]
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 […]
There are several ways of saying “Thank you” in Japanese. In this post, I am going to explain the most common phrase for “Thank you”. Arigatou (gozai masu / mashita) The phrase was derived from “Arigatashi”, which literally means “difficult to be”. The Kanji in “ari” means “there is” or “be (there)”, and another in […]
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 […]
In Japan, you can find capsule toy vending machines or gacha-gacha in Japanese (refers both to the toy and the vending machine) mostly everywhere. It’s usually located near the entrance at supermarkets, restaurants, department stores, and other places. Gacha-gacha (Capsule Toy) Specialty Store in Okayama City Recently, I have learned that there is a gacha-gacha specialty store called […]
The last post of “Japanese honorific titles” series. For people who are in a (supposed-to-be) honorary post, their business titles are generally used. There are too many to pick up everything, so I just write about some of the most common ones. Each of them can be used after the person’s name. In “Dalziel and […]
“Toshi densetsu” : Japanese urban legends (1) Summer in Japan is ridiculously hot and humid except in some northern areas. So, people enjoy horror stories especially in summer to feel shivering cold. There are many old and new ghost / horror stories in Japan, and I feel it would be nice to introduce some. (It’s […]
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 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 […]