Whenever you travel anywhere in Japan, the Japanese will always remind you what that place is famous for, and upon your return they will surely ask you whether you experienced that particular famous thing (whether visiting or eating). So, before we went to Kyushu we were given a long list of things that we simply must do. For example, Fukuoka is famous for ramen, so we knew we had to try it. Nagasaki is famous for castella (a type of cake), so we would eat that as well.
Fukuoka is also famous for Dazaifu Tenman-gu, a Shinto Shrine that is frequently visited by students, hoping to gain wisdom and success for their entrance examinations. So, we knew we wanted to go there as well. After all, we could all use a little extra wisdom.
Dazaifu is about an hour train ride out of Fukuoka and a perfectly pleasant place to spend a half-day or so. We did visit the shrine, but after that we found something which we thought was a little more spectacular.
A short walk away is Komyozenji, a Zen temple famous for having the one-and-only dry garden in Kyushu. Aaron and I have always been a fan of these types of gardens, and this one was no exception. Even in the middle of winter, an ordinarily gray and bleak time of year to visit a garden, it was still a peaceful and beautiful place.