Japan Atlas: Historic Sites 


Location: Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture



Western Fortress City that Played an Important Role as a Base for Diplomacy and Trade with Continental Asia 

The ruins of Dazaifu lie in Dazaifu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, in the northern part of Kyushu in the southwest of Japan. Here on the southern slopes of Mt. Ono are the remains of what was once a walled city built in open fields. Along with the site of Heijo-kyo in Nara and the ruins of Taga Castle in Miyagi, it is one of Japan's three noted historical sites.

Before the fortress was built, a diplomatic office was established in 536 to receive and send domestic and overseas delegations.

In 663, the Dazaifu government office, known as Tofuro, was established. The central government made it responsible for supervising the whole of the Kyushu region in the southwest of Japan and handling defense against East Asian countries, and foreign relations with them. In association with this there was large-scale urban development. For example, a huge defensive embankment, 1.2 km (about 0.7 miles) long and 13 m (about 14 yd.) high was raised, and a fortress was built, surrounded by an earth and stone embankment that measures 6.5 km (about 4 miles) around the circumference. The city complex that was built was about one third the size of the later capital of Heijo-kyo in Nara.

For a while in the 8th century, as a center of political, economic, cultural, and religious life, the Dazaifu's influence rivaled that of the central government. After this peak, Dazaifu declined and by the second half of the 12th century it was famous in name only.

Today, the area around the ancient ruins has been made into a park.

Many historical ruins remain today such as the ruins of the embankment built in the 7th century and pillars from foundation stone that measure 1 m (1.1 yd.) across, and remind us how large the building in the center of Dazaifu was.

Moreover, Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is dedicated to the god of learning to whom many people pray for academic success.

Photos: Dazaifu Ruins (Fukuoka Prefecture)

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