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LastUpDate: March 13, 2014
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Hakata Culture vol.85


Super Sakura Spots: Nishi Park and Terumo Shrine

Super Sakura Spots: Nishi Park and Terumo Shrine image

Located on a hill jutting into Hakata Bay, Nishi Park provides stunning views of the bay as well as Nokonoshima and Shikanoshima islands from its observation deck. Its wealth of natural greenery, in particular its cherry trees and azaleas, make it one of Fukuoka's most famous spots for hanami (flower viewing). There are about 3,000 cherry trees in Nishi Park, which has been selected as one of Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots, and when flower viewing season comes, the park comes alive with people and food booths.

Terumo Shrine, located atop a stone staircase near the top of the hill in the park, is dedicated to Kanbei Kuroda, the founding father of Fukuoka, and his son Nagamasa, the first lord of the Fukuoka Domain. The name Terumo is a combination of characters from the posthumous Buddhist names of the two men. The area around Nishi Park used to be called Aratsuyama or Aratoyama, and it has been closely associated with the Kuroda clan since the Edo era.

It was here that the second lord of Fukuoka, Tadayuki Kuroda, commissioned the construction of Toshogu Shrine and dedicated it to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The original Terumo Shrine was located on the premises of Fukuoka Castle, but it was moved to its present location on the ruins of Toshogu Shrine in Nishi Park in 1907. The shrine in its most recent incarnation was rebuilt in 1966. There are cranes painted on the ceiling, and when you throw coins into the collection box, a recording of singing cranes plays. This is a reference to Maizuru (lit., "dancing cranes") Castle, a nickname given to the Kuroda family's Fukuoka Castle because of the beautiful cranes that used to fly through the skies above.

Inside the shrine grounds stands a bronze statue of the famous Fukuoka samurai Tahei Bori. Bori was the model for the Kuroda-bushi folk song, and his statue holds the famous Nihon-go spear and a massive sake cup. (According to the song, he won the spear by quaffing a large cup of sake.) There is also a statue of Nagamasa's beloved kabuto helmet decorated with giant water buffalo horns. If you stop by the Fukuoka City Museum, you can see the actual Nihon-go spear and horned kabuto on display.



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桜の名所:西公園と光雲(てるも)神社

 西公園は博多湾に突き出た丘陵地にあり、展望台からは博多湾はもちろん、遠くは能古島や志賀島まで見渡せます。園内は自然の樹木に加え、桜やツツジが植えられ、とりわけ福岡の花見の名所として有名です。公園内には約3000本の桜があり、福岡県内で唯一「日本桜100選」に選ばれています。桜のシーズンになると多くの人が訪れ、沿道には屋台も出て大変なにぎわいです。

 山頂付近の石段を昇った場所にある光雲神社は、福岡藩祖・黒田如水(官兵衛)と福岡藩初代藩主・黒田長政を祀った神社です。神社の名前は2人の法名である龍光院殿(如水)、興雲院殿(長政)から1字ずつを取って名づけられました。西公園はかつて荒津山あるいは荒戸山と呼ばれており、江戸時代から黒田家にゆかりの深い場所でした。

 第2代藩主・忠之がこの地に徳川家康を祀る東照宮を勧請したのが始まり。光雲神社は当初、福岡城内にありましたが、明治40年(1907年)に西公園の東照宮跡に移されました。現在の社殿は昭和41年(1966年)に再建されたもので、天井には鶴の絵が描かれ、賽銭をあげて参拝すると鶴の声が聞こえる仕掛けがあります。黒田家が居城とした福岡城が、鶴が空に舞うような美しい姿から舞鶴城と呼ばれたことに由来しています。

  境内には福岡藩士の1人として活躍した母里太兵衛(ぼりたへえ)の銅像が立っています。福岡の民謡として名高い黒田節のモデルとなった人物で、歌詞にも出てくる名槍「日本号」と大きな杯を持っています。また長政が愛用していた水牛の兜の像も立っています。名槍「日本号」も長政の水牛の兜も、現在では福岡市博物館に収蔵されています。