Dazaifu Tenmangu is the first and most important of several hundreds of shrines built and dedicated to the spirits of Sugawara Michizane, an influential scholar and politician of the Heian Period, who has later been identified with Tenjin, the kami ("Shinto god") of education.|
After a spectacular political career, Michizane was unfairly exiled from Kyoto to Dazaifu, where he died a few years afterwards. A series of natural disasters, which followed Michizane's death, were interpreted as a consequence of exiling him unfairly, and the shrine was built on top of his grave in order to please his spirits.
There are about 6000 plum trees (ume), Michizane's favorite kind of tree, on the precincts of Dazaifu Tenmangu, including tobiume ("flying plum tree"), a tree which is said to have followed Michizane into exile by flying from Kyoto to Dazaifu. It now stands on the right side in front of the shrine's main hall.