There are a couple of cherry blossom destinations in Fukuoka’s city center, but what about fall foliage in Fukuoka?
The autumn foliage in the precinct of Momiji Hachimangū Shrine (紅葉八幡宮) in the city center makes its name worthy. From late November to early December each year, the maple trees (or Momiji in Japanese) from the torii gate to the worship hall vibrantly color the precinct, attracting thousands of pilgrims to visit the shrine!
Situated in the middle of a residential area and close to a shopping street, the locals have long visited Momiji Hachimangū to pray for family’s safety and success in their businesses since the mid-11th century.
In addition, Empress Jingū (神功皇后) is enshrined here. So pilgrims also come to the shrine to pray for child delivery and parenting.
Momiji Hachimangū’s Ichi no Torii Gate (一の鳥居)
The giant stone torii gate that marks the precinct of Momiji Hachimangū is the most giant stone torii in Fukuoka. The gate was first gifted by the 3rd lord of Fukuoka Domain, Kuroda Mitsuyuki (黒田光之), in 1666.
The Kagura-dō (神楽堂), at the top of the stairs beyond the Ichi no Torii Gate, was built in the Taishō period (1912 – 1926) for ritual dancing.
At the bottom of the torii gate in front of Kagura-dō, there are two lions’ heads, one red and one blue. They aren’t placed there for decoration. They are items to prevent and keep epidemics away since the Edo period! The lion heads you will see was re-made recently to pray for the end of COVID-19 and celebrate the Reiwa era’s start.
The Love Story Between a Village Girl and the Second Lord of Fukuoka Domain
When Momiji Hachimangū was located closer to the Fukuoka Castle in the early Edo period, Kuroda Tadayuki (黒田忠之), the second lord of the Fukuoka Domain, visited the cafe next to Momiji Hachimangū one day.
A village girl working nearby inadvertently splashed some mud onto Tadayuki’s clothes. Of course, the girl was called upon. But surprisingly, instead of punishing her, Tadayuki asked her to repay her mistake by helping out in the castle.
The girl later married Tadayuki and gave birth to Mitsuyuki, the third lord of the Fukuoka Domain. This is probably one of the reasons why Mitsuyuki gifted the torii gate to Momiji Hachimangū.
Rishō no Mitsu Water Fountain (利生の水)
Next to Momiji Hachimangū’s purification fountain, there is another water fountain called Rishō no Mitsu.
It is said that during a visit of Fukuoka Domain’s lord, he suddenly had a stomachache. At the time, a priest protecting Inari Shrine at the top of the mountain made a prayer for the lord and offered him the water. It is said that the lord’s upset stomach was settled immediately after he drank the water.
Momiji Hachimangū’s Ema Plaques and Fortune Slips
Other than in autumn, you can still see some vivid color on Momiji Hachimangū’s precinct.
The Ema plaques that the pilgrims write their wishes on the back and hang on one side of the shrine are shaped like a maple leaf. The size of the ema plaque was carefully measured, so it is as big as the real leaves grown on the maple trees next to the shrine’s lion dog statues!
The container of Momiji Hachimangū’s fortune slips is also shaped like a maple leaf. The ceramic container is delicately made that even those who aren’t interested in fortune slips would want to draw one just for the container!
Kodakara Stone (子宝石)
It is said that before Empress Jingū (神功皇后) led the troop to overtake the Korean peninsula, she was pregnant. Obviously, the timing wasn’t right. So, she prayed to God for a safe delivery only after the war was over. She then wrapped a stone around her waist and departed for the war.
Answering her prayer, she safely delivered a son after she succeeded in taking down most parts of the Korean peninsula and returned to Fukuoka. Feeling blessed, she placed the stone that she brought with her to the war at where she made the prayer.
So, if you are visiting the shrine for safe delivery, remember to pick up a Kodakara Stone from the precinct. After your child is born, write your child’s name on the stone and return it to the shrine.
Hakatame Stone (歯固め石)
Another stone you can take with you before delivery or shortly after you give birth to a child is the Hakatame Stone. It is a stone for you to perform a ritual at home to pray for your child’s oral health and smooth life.
Wash the stone properly and use a chopstick to lightly knock on the stone when you get home. Then with the same chopstick, knock lightly on your child’s gum. When you perform the ritual, remember to make the below prayer:
- May the teeth that are growing out be as strong as stones
- May the child have a life that won’t be troubled by the lack of food
After you perform the ritual, remember to bring the stone back to where you took it from.
Momiji Hachimangū’s AR Goshuin
If you read a bit of Japanese, you can download the Goshuin AR app HERE and discover more details about the gods enshrined in Momiji Hachimangū, popping out one after another.
Usually, people use the app after they have obtained actual Goshuin. But, you can also run the app by scanning the Goshuin online HERE.
The Autumn Foliage Festival at Momiji Hachimangū
The autumn foliage festival is held on the last weekend of November. The precinct is usually illuminated from one week before the festival, from sunset until 8 pm.
Momiji Hachimangū’s Opening Hours and Access Information
- The shrine office is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
- From Fukuoka City Subway’s Fujisaki Station’s (藤崎駅) exit no. 4, it is around a 7-minute walk.
- If you plan to drive there, you can park at the shrine’s car park next to the Ichi no Torii Gate from 7 am to 5 pm for free. If that car park is full, another car park is next to the main worship hall.
Discover Other Amazing Destinations in Fukuoka City
Wondering where else around Momiji Hachimangū is worth your time? Check out our article on Fukuoka City!
In the article, we have included various attractions that may suit your interests. There is also information available on Fukuoka’s famous Yatai street stalls (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.