Dazaifu is a small town just outside Fukuoka. One of it’s main attractions is the Dazaifu Tenmangu; a shrine dedicated to the spirits of Sugawara Michizane, an ancient Japanese scholar.
The road leading up to the shrine is full of shops selling souvenirs and various kinds of food. Several of the shops were selling Daruma which are wooden carvings used to bring good fortune. They are usually bought by students about to sit an exam. Using a black pen, one eye is drawn on while wishing for success. Should the wish come true, the other eye is then drawn on.
After passing under the entrance gate and into the grounds of the shrine, there is a big pool of water with drinking cups made of bamboo. Before approaching the shrine, visitors are supposed to use the cups to wash their hands with, and then drink, the water from the pool.
After washing and drinking, the visitor may approach the temple to throw in some money (usally 5-10 yen) and make a wish.
If making a wish in the temple is not enough, the visitor can part with a further 100 yen to buy an Omikuji from one of the stalls inside the ground. Omikuji means, literally, “sacred lottery” and is a piece of rolled up paper with a fortune written inside it, rather like an elaborate fortune cookie. After reading the fortune the visitor ties it in a bow on one of several specially prepared racks.
Aswell as the Omikuji, the visitor can buy an Ema – a small wooden board on which prayers or wishes can be written. There are also specially prepared racks where the Ema boards are hung.
More photos: Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine