Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Toko-ji Temple, Hagi


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The gate to Tokoji in Hagi has a somewhat Chinese feel because it is an Obaku Zen Temple founded in 1691. Obaku was a new sect of Zen founded by Chinese monks who came to Nagasaki to serve the Chinese community there.

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Tokoji was founded by the third Mori lord as a second temple housing the graves of the Mori and their wives. The 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th Lords are buried here. The other are buried at Daishoin on the other side of town.

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Most of the structures date from the 17th Century and are listed Cultural Properties. The temple complex is much reduced in size from earlier times, but it is still quite large and spacious, set in woods on the eastern edge of town.

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The honzon, the principle deity statue, is Shaka Nyorai, which in English we would call the historical Buddha.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Ayo Shrine


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Ayo Shrine is a small village shrine at the base of the mountain on which is located Rengeji, the 14th temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. The two kami enshrined here are Susano and Kunitokotachi. Susano is well known and prevalent throughout this area, but this was the first time I encountered Kunitokotachi.

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Which is actually kind of surprising since Kunitokotachi was the first kami to come into existence. Out of chaos heaven and earth separated and in the space between Kunitokotachi emerged out of "something like a reed". That is according to 4 sources in the Nihonshoki. In the Kojiki,  Amenominakanushi was first, and when the Kojiki was revived in the 19th Century Amenominakanushi started to receive more attention. It is generally believed that the first stories in the ancient myths concerned with the creation of the universe are Chinese in origin.

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The shrine has a fine example of Izumo-style shimenawa and a nice ancient tree.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Manhole Ohanami


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The annual cherry blossom viewing season is now over for most of Japan, but the cherry blossom can be seen year round by looking down. Not surprisingly given its cultural prominence the sakura appears as a design element in many, like this first one from Tadotsu in Kagawa, Shikoku.

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It features as a minor design element in countless designs, like this one from Kamo Town in Izumo.

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As I sorted through my files to find these I was expecting sakura to much more common than it is. I was surprised to find the Azalea being more common. The sakura above is from Mizukami in Kumamoto.

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From Miyahara, also in Kumamoto, also featuring a rose.

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From Toyoshi in Kagawa, with azaleas in the center.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park was completed in 1955 following a competition to find a design in 1949. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, and brought him to international recognition.

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It is generally considered to be the first Modernist piece of architecture in Japan and is considered the birth of post-war architecture.

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The park and structures are laid out along an axis that points directly to what is now referred to as the A Bomb Dome, the ruin that stands at the epicenter of the blast.

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One of the focal points is the Peace Flame located at the Cenotaph.

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Since its original building in 1955 many new structures and monuments have been constructed in the park. In 1994 the Tange designed Memorial Hall was added.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Day 6, May 19th, 2012


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The sixth day of my walk along the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage route was as glorious as the previous few days. Like the last 2 days my route lay roughly east through the mountains.

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The spine of western japan is the Chugoku Mountains, and here on the northern side the rivers run mostly north towards the sea, so my easterly route involved a lot of up and down. The last 2 days I had been in the watershed of the Hi River, the site of the Yamata no Orochi myth, but todays I should pass over into another watershed.

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After leaving Hinobori I crossed over to the next valley and then started the climb up to the first pilgrimage temple of the day.....

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Temple 24 Hotsumisakiji


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Temple 24, Hotsumisaki-ji, is the first of the pilgrimage temples in Kochi and is located at the tip of Cape Muroto.

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It is one of the few temples that has historical rather than legendary links to Kobo Daishi, being located on the hilltop above the cave where he spent 3 years until achieving enlightenment. he founded the temple in 805.

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It was here that he took the name Kukai. It is a Shingon temple and the honzon (main deity) is Kokuzo Bosatsu, the deity that Kukai chanted to a million times. It was reputedly carved by Kukai.

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It is a very popular site for visitors, and there is a large lodgings facility for pilgrims, but when I stayed there in September I was the only guest.

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In the grounds is a large boulder with indentations. Supposedly if the boulder is hit with rocks different musical tones are emitted. I didnt try it so I can't vouch for the veracity.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hinobori Shrine


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I am afraid I know absolutely nothing about this shrine. It is a mystery. usually shrines have their name in a carved nameplate on the torii, but not here. usually a shrine will have a painted wooden nameplate over the door of the main hall, but not here.

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Its located near the village of Hinobori, about one kilometer from Sanja Shrine, but halfway between Sanja Shrine and this one Google maps goes into "no detail" mode so I couldnt find its name that way either.

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I was able to find a list of shrines in Hinobori, but it uses an old style of address that is no longer useable. It is obviously more used than Sanja Shrine as evidenced by the fairly recent masonry and newish komainu.

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So many new komainu are done in a modern, national style, so it was nice to see that here they were done in the traditional Izumo style, with haunches raised.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Komainu of Shikoku part 2


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The second post on the diverse styles of komainu I encountered in Shikoku while walking the pilgrimage. The first post is here. With bibs as paw warmers, at Temple 16, Kannonji.

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Guarding the approach to Kushibuchi Hachman Shrine in Tokushima.

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Wrapped in shimenawa at Ikuchi Shrine, Tokushima.

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At Ebisu Shrine in Naka, Tokushima. the male will often be depicted with a paw resting on a ball, but here the ball is balanced on the paw.

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Its female opposite, often depicted with a cub/pup. The upper jaw seems to be missing which gives it a strange appearance.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sanja Shrine


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Sanja Shrine is right next door to Manpukuji and I came into the shrine from a trail that lead from the temple.
Sanja means " Three kami", and the three enshrined here are Izanagi, Hayatamano, and Kotosakano.

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Izanagi is well known but the other two are known only in an alternate version of the myth that has Izanagi visiting his deceased wife Izanami in the underworld, Yomi. When he left Yomi Izanagi swore and oath of divorce from Izanami, he then spat. From the spittle was created Hayatamano who is the main kami of the famous shrine with his name in Kumano.

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Also appearing at that time was Kotosakano, full name Yomotsu Kotosakanoo, which means " The man of words of separation of Yomi". I have encountered this triad of kami at other shrines in Izumo and Iwami.

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Also enshrined here is Oyamakui, a grandson of Susano through Otoshi, and the main kami of Hie Taisha and Sanno Shinto. There is also an Aragami-sha, pictured above.

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This area I am walking through is at the heart of Orochi country, and according to local people following the destruction of Orochi by Susano the people danced a celebration at this spot that later became this shrine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yoshida Shoin History Museum


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In the grounds of the Shoin Shrine in Hagi, Yamaguchi, is the Yoshida Shoin History Museum.

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A series of lifesize tableaux depicts events from his life, including his attempt to leave Japan on Perrys' "Black Ship"

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There is no information available in English, and unless you are a die-hard Shoin buff it is probably not worth visiting.

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