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Let’s Heal Our Minds and Bodies: Recommended Power Spots in Fukuoka

“Power spots” are the current craze in Japan, which literally mean a place which has the “power” to heal the mind and using the “power” of Mother Nature as therapy and boost one’s spirit.   A trip or tourist spot where one receives energy in both mind and body is also called “power spot.”   Fukuoka is dotted with these so-called power spots. This time, we’ll be focusing on introducing shrines to all of you.

 

Dazaifu Tenmangu: God of Learning

Dazaifu Tenmangu is the main Tenmangu shrine in Japan. Sugawara no Michizane is revered here as the god of learning. It is also known as one of the leading tourist spots in Fukuoka Prefecture. It’s a recommended power spot to visit because the shrine is an exceedingly powerful temple of energy.

The Tenkai Inari Shrine located at the northeast of the Dazaifu Tenmangu main shrine is also highly popular as a power spot. It’s so popular that a lot of people come and go, making it a bit difficult to grasp that spiritual environment. It’s also said that the area around the big tree in front of the entrance to the grounds also has energy.

People visit Dazaifu Tenmangu from all over Japan for field trips, particularly students who are about to take exams. It is also a good place to go to for people praying for good health.   However, there’s a rumor from the people living in Dazaifu that couples who cross the red bridge in the shrine grounds together will end up breaking up… So in order to not break up, it seems like a good idea to cross that bridge in groups of three instead.

 

Hakozaki Shrine: God of Victory

Hakozaki Shrine is called Hakozaki Hachimangu (shrine of the god of war) and is known as the highest-ranking shrine in the Chikuzen Province (an old area of Japan which is now part of the Fukuoka Prefecture). Out of all the Hachimangu shrines in Japan, this one can be counted as one of the biggest three.

Called the “god of victory,” the professional baseball team of Fukuoka (Softbank Hawks) and soccer teams as well pay a visit to Hakozaki Shrine every year. It’s also often shown on television that the popular shrine where participants of the Fukuoka Marathon pray to for victory is none other than Hakozaki Shrine.

As a power spot, there is quite a strong energy inside the shrine. An 800-year old tree called “Ookusu” and a stone called “Yuushutsu” are also known power spots of the shrine. Particularly, good fortune is said to come your way if you touch the Yuushutsu stone.

 

Kamado Shrine: Tied in Love and Marriage  

Kamado Shrine is known and revered as a shrine for marriage and warding off evil. It has two shrines, one at the top of Mount Houmon, while the other is at the base.

As a power spot, there are times when the presence of the god is strongly felt at Kamado Shrine, but it seems that there are quite a lot of times when the presence cannot be felt. When the presence of the lucky god is there, one will be able to receive its grace and blessing if they visit during that time.

 

Miyajidake Shrine: The Best Shimenawa in Japan

Miyajidake Shrine is popular for having the biggest shimenawa (Shinto rope used as a talisman against evil) in Japan, and is also known as the shrine for the good fortune of a thriving business. The main shrine out of all the Miyajidake shrines in the country, its streets are lined with souvenir shops, making it a lively and bustling shrine.

As a power spot, to say the least, its front shrine holds a strong energy as well as an overwhelming atmosphere. This is a spot for those who wish to see the biggest shimenawa in Japan for themselves.

 

Munakata Grand Shrine: The Three Goddesses  

Munakata Grand Shrine is the shrine for the three Munakata goddesses, and is the main shrine out of the approximately 7,000 Munakata shrines all over Japan. The three goddesses, Hetsu-gu, Nakatsu-gu, and Okitsu-gu are worshipped here, and are collectively called as the Munakata Taisha (grand shrine). This shrine is formerly revered as the god of maritime protection and safe voyages.

 

Sumiyoshi Shrine: God of Sea

Also called “Chikuzen Ichinomiya,” Sumiyoshi Shrine was built 1800 years ago and is the oldest shrine out of the approximately 2,000 Sumiyoshi shrines all over Japan. Its enshrined deity is collectively called “Sumiyoshi sanjin” (the three Sumiyoshi gods) and has strong purification and cleansing powers. Because the shrine was formerly close to the sea, the Sumiyoshi gods are also heavily revered as gods of voyage.

 

Source: Let’s Heal Our Minds and Bodies!! Recommended Power Spots in Fukuoka!!

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Nagasaki Peace Park: In Memory of the Atomic Bomb Victims

Nagasaki commemorated the 70th year of the atomic bomb dropping last August 9, 2015. The day before, my grade school students at the cram school where I teach English asked me if I knew what day was the next day.

“Sunday?”

They were all appalled. “You don’t know?!” one practically yelled, aghast. “Tomorrow is a very important day for Nagasaki! Everyone should know about it!”

I must admit I felt ashamed at the earnestness reflecting on their little faces, and assured them that yes, I know about the atomic bomb although it had admittedly slipped my mind.

August means summer vacation here in Japan, but for the entire prefecture of Nagasaki, high school students (presumably grade school as well) have compulsory classes on August 9 despite being in the middle of vacation in order to learn, again and again, about that fateful day.

I got the chance to go to the Nagasaki Peace Park last November 8, 2014, with the rest of the international students at my school as part of a Nagasaki-wide universities and colleges conference which started at Nagasaki University about world peace. Given that they placed heavy importance in conveying the gravity of why atomic bombings must never happen again, pamphlets in English, Chinese and Korean were handed out, and an interpreter conscientiously translated each sentence of the guest speaker.

This guest speaker had been a boy of around 8-10 years old at the time of the bombing. Unfortunately, I cannot recall his name. He recalls the day being extremely hot and felt just like any other day, save for the increased caution everyone exercised because of bombing warnings. He and his friends had made plans to play by the river. By some stroke of luck – or perhaps saying fate would be more fitting – his mother had insisted he stay at home to finish his homework for the summer.

Then the bomb struck.

What became of his friends, he says, he has no idea. He never saw them again.

After that very moving seminar, we were split into groups based on which language we want our tour guide to speak. I went with the English one because I wanted to be able to absorb every detail as much as possible.

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The Peace Memorial Statue

Our tour started at the Peace Memorial Statue. At first glance, one might instantly wonder why its pose is as such. As it turns out, there was an explanation for it: the closed eyes symbolize prayer for the souls of the victims while the hand pointing upwards symbolizes the atomic bomb from above. The extended left hand is for peace, the folded right leg symbolizes meditation and the upright left leg symbolizes that the survivors can and will rise again.

These statues are found all throughout the park as you walk along. They come from different countries, each symbolizing their own interpretation of peace.

The Peace Fountain
The Peace Fountain

Water is another very important symbol which plays into the bombing at the time. When the bomb exploded, the victims were said to have felt an unquenchable thirst as their bodies burned.

Lines of a poem by Yamaguchi Sachiko, who was a little girl at the time. It reads:
Lines of a poem by Yamaguchi Sachiko, who was a little girl at the time. It reads: “I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was.”
Actual bomb raid shelters.
Actual bomb raid shelters.

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Ground zero.
Ground zero.

My friend Tammy notes in her own post about the Peace Park (check out her post and the rest of her blog here) that it was interesting how quiet it was here at the place where the bomb had been dropped and exploded despite being close to the main road. I would have to agree as I remember thinking the same thing. There were a lot of tourists and the students I was with when I came, but there was something about the area that demanded silence.

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Ruins of the Urakami Cathedral
Ruins of the Urakami Cathedral

This is actual ruins of the Urakami Cathedral in its actual location. The building itself has since been restored and is now located in another place.

Paper cranes, folded in thousands in order to grant wishes, have also come to be a symbol of peace
Paper cranes, folded in thousands in order to grant wishes, have also come to be a symbol of peace
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Preserved state of the soil at the time of the bombing

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The stream where thousands of people crawled towards in search of water; it was said to have been strewn with dead bodies.
The stream where thousands of people crawled towards in search of water; it was said to have been strewn with dead bodies.
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A statue near ground zero. 11:02 AM was the time the bomb exploded over the city.

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It was interesting to realize that the victims of the atomic bomb were not only Japanese people but foreigners as well. As Nagasaki was a known trading port, it was also ultimately the landing point for foreigners who had committed crimes, as well as prisoners of war.

Later in class, we were asked to write and deliver short speeches about our thoughts about the war, especially since the countries where us international students come from (Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar) were once conquered by Japan. I said that while it was indeed true that the Philippines once suffered under the Japanese regime, ultimately everyone in the war is a victim – including the winning side. And the ones who suffer the most are the ones who aren’t even fighting.

Going to Nagasaki Peace Park
– from Nagasaki Station: ride trams number 1 (blue) or 3 (red) headed for Akasako and get off at Matsuyamamachi Station.
* all tram rides cost ¥120 regardless of distance

For more information about Nagasaki and the rest of Kyushu Island, check out DISCOVERY JAPAN.
Enjoy a different world from Tokyo and Osaka.

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Akihabara At Night

In my last post (which was, wow, over a year ago! Hi guys lol), I mentioned that the skies were overcast when we were out. Continuing with that day, by the time night fell, it was already raining in Akihabara when we got there. (On a side note: R and I fell asleep on the train on the way and woke up just as we missed Akihabara, haha. We got off at the next stop and hopped on a train back.) It wasn’t raining hard, then, but it wasn’t just a drizzle, either. The rain definitely put a damper on our spirits. Even so, we walked around the area for a bit to see what it was all about.Read More »

Glimpses of Tokyo: Shinjuku and Nakano

As you can see, the sky was rather overcast all throughout. It actually began raining by the time we reached Nakano Broadway, our next stop. Nakano Broadway is a 4-storey shopping mall dedicated to anime, gaming and idol merchandise. Definitely a must-see for fans.🙂 More on Nakano Broadway here.

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Square Enix: Character Goods Shop Showcase

I first heard about Square Enix during high school in 1999; they were still Squaresoft back then. I remember staring at the gorgeous advertisement for Final Fantasy VIII in one of the video game magazines R loved bringing to class – and falling in love with Squall Leonhart, hahaha. (I even remember the release date for FF8: 9/9/99.) I was FF8-baited into Square Enix: it was the first Final Fantasy I played (and finished) and subsequently became my favorite. The other FFs I got to play and finish were only FF7 and FF9 for the PlayStation console, and Dissidia and Dissidia Duodecim for the PSP. But even if I’m not a hardcore Final Fantasy gamer, R was (haha) and we definitely didn’t want to pass up a chance to visit The Square Enix in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

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The entrance to the Character Goods Shop Showcase, not the actual Square Enix headquarters, wherever it is, haha

The Character Goods Shop Showcase was basically… yes, a showcase. It also doubled as a shop of various Square Enix Merchandise.Read More »

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First glimpses of Tokyo

After having quite a whirlwind arrival in Tokyo the previous night (although it was the same day, really, considering the lateness of the hour), R and I crashed on our futons much later, spending several hours updating various social media platforms (haha) and touching base with our families because we didn’t have any contact with […]