Saturday, April 12, 2014

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


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.


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.


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


Friday, April 11, 2014

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Temple 24 Hotsumisakiji


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Komainu of Shikoku part 2


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.


Guarding the approach to Kushibuchi Hachman Shrine in Tokushima.


Wrapped in shimenawa at Ikuchi Shrine, Tokushima.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 13 Manpukuji


After leaving Iishi Shrine I headed downstream to a larger valley and then headed further east up another small valley. Manpukuji is in a remote location and is little visited today.


It is yet another temple reputedly founded in 745 by Gyoki, who also carved the main statue of the Thousand Armed, Thousand Eyed Kannon. It is only opened to view once every 33 years. The Nio were quite crude, the kind of "folk" art that I prefer.


More steps up to the bell tower. This used to be a much larger temple complex located higher up the mountainside. It was a Kiganjo, an official prayer temple, for the Mori Clan.


During the Warring States Period, the Amago and Mori fought many battles and during one the temple was burnt down. In the mid 16th Century it was rebuilt at a much smaller scale at the present location.


It is now a Shingon temple.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pilgrim No More


At 3:30 this afternoon I reached temple 108 of the Kyushu Pilgrimage, the Okuin of Temple 88 Chinkokuji, in Munakata. It has taken me 76 days to walk about 2,200 kilometers and I am bushed, but it has been a wonderful journey that has taken me to most corners of Kyushu. So for now I cease being a pilgrim..... until I start the Chugoku 33 hee hee.


The way home......

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Equinox


Last Thursday was the Spring Equinox, and it was also the day I began the final leg of my 2000 plus kilometer walk around Kyushu following the Kyushu 88 Temple Pilgrimage. First stop was Ohashi Kannon-ji, temple #76, in Yoshii, north of Sasebo. Behind the temple was this huge natural bridge. Certainly a big surprise.


Later I left the main road and cut across the hills to visit Tabira Church. Christian cemeteries are not a common sight in most parts of Japan. Photos of the church can be found at this earlier post


Then it was over the bridge to the island of Hirado. Temple #77 is Saikyo-ji.


Then a trek up to the far north of the island to temple 78 which is at the beach where Kukai left on his journey to China in 804. This is a Shingon pilgrimage, so Kukai sites feature heavily.


Back in the main town I just had time for a quick trip to one of the scenic spots, The View Of a Church and Temple. The church is the St Xavier Memorial Church. Photos of which can be seen here.

So now I am in Karatsu. Tomorrow I plan to visit the site where the earliest example of rice in Japan was found. All being well in 4 days I should reach Munakata and the end of my 78 day journey.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sefa Utaki


Sefa Utaki is a World heritage Site on the southern coast of the main Okinawan Island. It was the most important sacred site for the royal family of the Ryukyus.


There are a series of shrines but no buildings are left. The path up the hillside passes through the verdant sub-tropical forest and by limestone cliffs.


At the highest point is Sanguii, a narrow cleft in the rock that leads to the most important altar. From here you can look down on Kudaka Island, the site where myth says the gods landed bringing grain and where the Okinawan people were created.


It's possible to get to Sefa Utaki by bus, though they are not frequent. It is worth it if only to get out into nature.


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