[Sansha Mairi]

In Fukuoka Prefecture, where I was born, there is a custom called sansha mairi (sansha moude) as a New Year's visit to shrines. As the name suggests, it means visiting three shrines, and it has taken root in some areas in the Kyushu and Chugoku regions.

There are various theories as to the origin of the custom, including the theory that the Imperial Court originally dedicated the three shrines, Ise Jingu Shrine, Ishimizu Hachimangu Shrine, and Kamo Shrine, and that this custom spread to the general public. There is a theory that the sansha mairi began as a way of greeting the guardian deities of the area in which one lives.

Although there are no rules regarding which shrines to visit, the order in which they are to be visited, or how long they are to be held, the fact that people talk about whether or not they were able to visit the three shrines as part of their New Year's activities and feel a sense of accomplishment from having visited them may be due to the fact that they were born and raised in Fukuoka.

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Fukuoka Prefecture. Popular with travelers from abroad, this shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the god of learning. It is also the head shrine of the approximately 12,000 Tenmangu shrines in Japan, and is a staple for those who spend their school days in Fukuoka Prefecture, and everyone has probably visited the shrine at least once, as its benefits include success in entrance exams, academic achievement, job satisfaction, and protection from bad luck.

In May 2023, for the first time in 124 years, a major renovation of the main hall, an important cultural property, will begin and last for about three years. This will be the last time you will be able to see the 124-year history of the main shrine, so why not visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine when you come to Fukuoka Prefecture?

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