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Dazaifu is a small town only 18km southeast of Fukuoka, Japan. The town was the administrative centre in the 7th-century for Kyushu for over 500 years. Today, Dazaifu attracts millions of visitors to the famous Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, where people (especially students) pray for good luck for their exams.
A day trip to Dazaifu from Fukuoka is easy and fun. Plus you can see what rural Kyushu looks like. As much as I love being in cities, I also love seeing the quiet countryside. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day in Dazaifu as it has historical temples and monuments, excellent food, exciting exhibits at the museum, and an opportunity to hike up a mountain to see an unobstructed view of the city. What can be better than that?
Why Dazaifu is great for a solo female traveller
Taking a Dazaifu day trip from Fukuoka is super easy. Even if you cannot read or speak Japanese, you will not have any issues navigating from Fukuoka to Dazaifu.
Plus you can see what rural Kyushu looks like. As much as I love being in cities, I also love seeing the quiet countryside. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day in Dazaifu and experiencing another side of Japan I haven’t seen before.
Before you go on Dazaifu day trip
Before you go to Dazaifu, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information, including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
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How to get to Dazaifu from Fukuoka
The journey from Fukuoka to Dazaifu is easy due to the efficient public transportation system.
I listed all the ways to get from Fukuoka to Dazaifu. But the most efficient and cheapest way is by taking the Nishitetsu Railway.
- From Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station (Fukuoka) to Dazaifu Station (Dazaifu)
- Take the train to Nishitetsu-Futsukaichi Station on Nishitetsu-Tenjin-Omuta Line
- Transfer at Nishitetsu-Futsukaichi Station to the train on Nishitetsu-Dazaifu Line to Dazaifu Station
- Time: 30 minutes
- Cost: about ¥400 (IC card is accepted)
- Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares
Japan Rail System
- From JR Hakata Station (Fukuoka) to Dazaifu Station (Dazaifu)
- Take the train at JR Hakata Station on JR Kagoshima Line to JR Futsukaichi Station
- Walk 10 minutes to Nishitetsu-Futsukaichi Station and take Nishitetsu train on Nishitetsu-Dazaifu Line to Dazaifu Station
- Time: 15 minutes + 5 minutes
- Cost: about ¥280 for JR train and ¥150 for Nishitetsu train (IC card is accepted for both trains)
- Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares
Dazaifu Liner Bus “Tabito”
- From Hakata Bus Centre (Fukuoka) to Dazaifu Station (Dazaifu)
- Time: 40 minutes
- Frequency: every 20 to 30 minutes
- Cost: ¥600
- Check the Nishitetsu website for schedules and fares
How to get around Dazaifu
Dazaifu is a small town, and it is best to explore the quaint town on foot.
Every attraction listed in this travel blog is in walking distance, including the hike up to the viewpoint. So wear a pair of comfortable sneakers, and you will enjoy your day in Dazaifu.
Where to stay in Dazaifu
It is possible to visit all the sites in Dazaifu comfortably in one day. And because accommodation in Fukuoka is very affordable, there really is no need to stay overnight in Dazaifu.
But if you want to explore rural Kyushu, there are a handful of accommodations including hostels, guest houses, hotels and Airbnb.
Hostels, guest houses & hotels
From my experience, Agoda is one of the best sites for booking hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. I’ve never had any issues with my bookings.
The website has a huge database of accommodations available in Japan, including a few options for Dazaifu.
Airbnb is an excellent option, especially when you are travelling long-term. There are a few options to choose in Dazaifu.
And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
What to do in Dazaifu, Japan
Planning a day trip to Dazaifu is really easy, especially if you follow my guide. Take a look at all the Dazaifu attractions and visit them in the order listed below.
All the places mentioned are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
1. Stroll through the main shopping street, Tenjinsama-dori
As soon as you exit Dazaifu Station, you will see Tenjinsama-dori, the main shopping street in Dazaifu. The road is lined with retail stores and cafes on both sides of the street.
Vendors sell unique Japanese souvenir items, including the most popular Dazaifu souvenir, Omegae mochi, rice cake with red bean paste. You can buy one now or buy it later at the end of the day.
Also, there is an Information Centre at the end of the shopping street. If you want to pick up a map or ask questions before you start your day in Dazaifu, this is the place to do it.
2. Visit an ultra-modern Starbucks in Dazaifu
Designed by architects Kengo Kuma and Associates, the ultra-modern Starbucks in Dazaifu sits next to traditional Japanese houses along the main shopping street.
Inside you will find over 2000 wood batons interwoven into a lattice pattern covering the walls and ceilings. The wooden structure extends all the way to the entrance as well.
If you love the juxtaposition of modern design next to traditional Japanese elements, then you must visit the Starbucks coffee shop. I normally like to visit local coffee shops and not visit any franchised stores, but the Starbucks in Daizaifu on the main street is unique and is totally worth visiting.
3. Enjoy the zen gardens of Komyozen-ji Temple
Komoyozen-ji Temple is famous for its two rock gardens where each one is different from another.
The front garden is smaller and has 15 rocks placed in the garden. The placement of the stones forms the Japanese character for “light.” The rear garden has mossy patches of greenery placed strategically around the pebbles and stones where the entire composition represents a large piece of land and bodies of water.
Enjoy the zen gardens for just ¥200.
4. Pray and get a blessing at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
As one of Kyushu’s most historical temple, Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine attracts over 2 million visitors a year. The shrine is dedicated to the memory of Sugawara Michizane, who was a brilliant scholar from Kyoto and was associated with the Shinto god of learning.
Students from all over Japan visit Tenmangu Shrine to pray and get a blessing. They pray that they will pass their exams because the shrine is known as “the God of Examination.”
The temple premise is over 250 meters long where it has torii gate, a pond in the shape of the Japanese word for “heart” and over 6,000 ume (plum) trees, which is Sugawara Michizane’s favourite tree.
If you want to take some good fortune with you, buy a good luck charm at the shop before you leave the shrine!
5. Learn Japanese history at Kyushu National Museum
The modern contemporary building exterior resembles a sports stadium. The modernity of the architecture is strikingly different from the rest of the traditional design in Dazaifu.
The spacious main hall has a restaurant, cafe, an ajippa (interactive exhibition gallery), and a museum shop. And you might even see a giant yamakasa float on the ground level, which is used for float-racing during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival.
Go to the 4th floor to see the Cultural Exchange Exhibit, which is the museum’s permanent collection on artifacts between the Old Stone Age to Edo Period. The exhibit has many displays emphasizing the relationship between Japan and Asia. The collection is quite extensive, so leave yourself some time to go through all the displays.
Admission for the permanent exhibit is ¥430.
6. Indulge in a kaiseki tofu lunch at Ume no Hana
As a solo traveller, I don’t always splurge on food. But I made an exception for Ume no Hana, and it wasn’t that expensive for something so unique and original.
The little restaurant is tucked away in Dazaifu in a traditional Japanese house. It is a famous kaiseki restaurant (a style of traditional Japanese cuisine where many small dishes are prepared and served) serving the best tofu dishes.
I ordered the mid-range set menu where it has over ten tofu dishes. I didn’t think it was possible to make tofu in so many different ways.
While the food is something I still remember so vividly, I really enjoyed sitting in a private room with a traditional Japanese interior to enjoy the special meal.
If you want to experience a traditional kaiseki vegetarian meal, then make sure you try Ume no Hana. It was well worth ¥4,000+ for the entire experience.
7. See a panoramic view of Dazaifu from Iwaya Castle Ruins
There was a massive samurai battle between Takahashi Joun and his 763 warriors against the army of Shimazu Yoshihisa of Satsuma and his 50,000 soldiers in 1586 at Iwaya Castle on Mount Shioji.
Today, the castle ground only has the remnants of the castle and a gorgeous panoramic view of Dazaifu City.
It is possible to walk up to Iwaya Castle Ruins from Dazaifu. Take in the view of Dazaifu and even southern Fukuoka City.
9. Try Umegae mochi (red bean rice cake), a local specialty
Before you jump back on the train and return to Fukuoka, return to Tenjinsama-dori, the main shopping street, and look for a local snack called Umegae mochi. It is a grilled rice cake with sweet red bean paste inside. The rice cake is slightly crispy on the outside while the filling is quite sweet.
You can either go to one of the shops along the shopping street and try one on the spot or order one at a teahouse. You can even watch them make the rice cake at the store. Buy one to eat immediately and some for all your loved ones back home.
For more travel planning resources, check out my Amazon picks:
Where to go in Japan
Check out my guides to the best cities to visit in Japan, including: