Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Giant Temple Lanterns

Paper lanterns are ubiquitous in Japan with white or red being the most common colors. Small red lanterns hanging outside an establishment typically suggests that  alcohol is served inside.

Temples also feature lanterns, with very large, red ones being found at some temples. These examples were all found while I was walking the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage this year.

The first photo was taken in the main hall of Kokawadera Temple in Wakayama Prefecture. The second is at Sefukuji Temple in the mountain in the south of Osaka Prefecyure, and the third is at Ishiyamadera temple at the southern end of Lake Biwa in Shiga.

The fourth is also in Shiga, at Miidera Temple, and the final photo is at Imakumano Kannonji Temple in Kyoto.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Shikoku Pilgrimage Day 10..... a morning of shrines

Friday September 23rd, 2011, the tenth day of my walk along the Shikoku Pilgrimage and I was still in Tokushima.

By 8:30 I had finished visiting Yakuoji, temple number 23 of the pilgrimage and I spent the rest of the morning heading down route 55 towards Mugi.

Along the way I passed numerous shrines some small, some a little grander, and I stopped in to check them out.

I didn't bother taking notes so I don't know their names nor the kami enshrined therein. Almost all the pilgrims I encountered on my walk just walked past these shrines, concentrating on reaching the next pilgrimage temple, but I believe in the old days pilgrims would have done what I was doing, and stop in at every sacred site along the route.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kasuga Shrine, Yukuhashi

On my way out of Yukuhashi, heading towards the coast, I stopped in at a small local shrine whose entrance beckoned me.

Shrines are great stopping places on walks.... a quiet space away from traffic, and often with something to see in terms of statuary, carvings etc.

This one is a Kasuga Shrine, a branch of the famous Kasuga Taisha up in Nara, and therefore enshrining the same gods.

It has obviously been rebuilt quite recently. One thing I am always on the lookout for at shrines are the komainu, as their designs are quite varied. This shrine had quite nice elephant carvings.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Tea House at Hagi Castle

Within the grounds of the Hagi Castle ruins there are not many buildings. A small storehouse, a fairly modern shrine, but there is also a small traditional teahouse set among some gardens.

Of all the times I have been there it has only been open once, but there always seems to be someone working on the gardens.

I believe it is possible to have tea here but I can find no information as to when or how much.

It is a nice place to wander and take pics though....

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shohachimangu Shrine

Shohachimangu is a very popular shrine located right in the middle of downtown Yukuhashi.

When I visited all the lanterns and banners were still up from the new year, the most popular time at any shrine.

Marked with 4 bamboos connected by shimenawa, this is a temporary sacred space wherein last years ofuda and other lucky charms would have been ritually burned. Mos people purchase new ofuda and amulets etc each new year.

It is not a great distance from here to the original Hachiman shrine at Usa, and before hachiman spread to central Japan it had many shrines across Kyushu. I was unable to find out which kami were enshrined in the various secondary shrines in the grounds.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bovine Drainspotting

An unusual subject, one would think, for manhole designs in Japan is cows and bulls. This first one is from the highlands of the Chugoku Mountains in northern Okayama, Hiruzen-Kogen, which is apparently the main breeding area for Jersey cows. Who would have thought it?

Chibu, the smallest inhabted island in the Oki Islands group in the Japan Sea off the coast of Shimane, is famous for raising cattle, Unusual for Japan you can bump into them standing in the middle of the roads.

Bullfighting or rather Bull Sumo, is popular in several areas of Japan, including Uwajima on Shikoku.

Bull Sumo is also very popular on Dogo, the largest of the aforementioned Oki Islands. Two of the towns have fighting bulls on their manholes.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Oharahachiman Shrine

Oharahachiman is located not far from the Obasenishikodai-mae train station in Kanda, near Kokura, Kitakyushu. Where this first torii now stands was once the seashore. Now the sea is a couple of k away.

Being early in the new year the banners were up and both the long approach road and the shrine precincts were lined with lanterns.

Though named a hachiman shrine, it is not related to all the other hachiman shrines. The main kami is not Emperor Ojin, but Oharanosukune. Sukune was a name/title that kind of means "land creator" and he is considered to be an ancient leader in the Fukuoka region.

It is obviously a very popular shrine in the region for all kinds of benefits, easy childbirth, wealth, driving safety, etc etc. Being new year it was still all decorated and various good luck charms and such were on sale.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Getting to the Kyushu National Museum

The Kyushu National Museum is located in the ancient western capital of Dazaifu in Fukuoka.

It's built on a hill overlooking Dazaifi Tenmangu, the temple built around the last resting place of Sugawara Michizane that became a shrine in the Meiji Period, and probably the most major tourist spot in Dazaifu.

To get between the two there is a series of escalators and moving walkways. The museum was designed by the famous Metabolist architect  Kiyonori Kikutake, and I suspect the escalator and walkway too.

What makes it worthy of note and inclusion in my occasional architecture postings is the light show. A sequence of different colors shoot down the tunnel as you travel along, as well different colored lighting along the wall.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 7 Kanda to Nakatsu

I took an early train from Kokura back to Kanda to begin the days leg of my walk around Kyushu. Today would be a tad over 30 kilometers and would not include any of the pilgrimage temples, though I would visit a couple of small temples are quite a few shrines including a couple of fairy big ones.

The weather was glorious as I crossed over the first of two rivers that cut through Yukuhashi.

Cloudier weather from the south drifted in by the time I crossed the second river, though intermittent sun continued all day.

At Unoshima I passed the big powwr plant. because of the large tanks I am guessing it is oil powered.

I was into the outskirts of Nakatsu by the time the sun set.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple 32 Zenjibuji

Located on a hilltop on the Pacific coast south of Kochi City, Zenjibuji is temple number 32 of the 88 temples that make up the pilgrimage.

The grounds contained a lot of rocky outcroppings and is said to resemble Fudaraku, the paradise of Kannon placed in southern India.

The honzon of this Shingon temple is an 11 faced Kannon, said to be carved by Kobo Daishi who is also claimed as the temples founder, though other sources attribute both to Gyoki.

While I was visiting a group of modern day yamabushi were in the process of leaving. In their immaculately clean costumes and air-conditioned tour bus it was hard for me to reconcile them with the yamabushi of old.

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