Saturday, December 8, 2018

Heiwa Dori Illuminations

Heiwa Dori is the wide boulevard in Hiroshima City that runs up to the Horoshima Peace park. There are pedestrian park spaces running along either side of the road and during December they are filled with illuminations.

Illuminations are not normally my kind of thing, but we were in the city for the night and not far from Heiwa Dori, so we braved the coldest temperatures of the winter so far to see what was up.

It was surprisingly enjoyable with not so many people out and about and a complete lack of commercialization. The illumination ran for about 800 meters on both sides of the road .

I quite liked the phoenix, but my favorite was a simple one.... a huge tree with spreading boughs......

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hunting the late Fall colors in Omori

It has become one of my traditions that I spend much of November walking along some pilgrimage trail or other enjoying the color of Fall. Unfortunately this year a bout of ill health followed by a period of hospitalization meant that I missed much of November.

We took off one day and headed up to the village of Omori in Iwami Ginzan in the hope of catching the last remnants of color and was able to find some. The hillsides still had some color to them, and though most of the ginkgo trees were naked there was still somewhat of a carpet at one of the small temples.

A few of the small gardens still had some maples, but the best colors were to be found at shrines.

The big Hachimangu at the northern end of the village still had much to be seen, but the best was at the Ido Shrine on the opposite side of the river, and not usually visited by tourists....

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Seiganto-ji Temple at Nachi

The Nyorindo, the main hall of Seiganto-ji, the Tendai temple that is the "buddhist" part of the shrine-temple complex at Nachi, next to the highest waterfall in Japan. The current main hall dates to 1587 and was built by Hideyoshi after the original buildings had been razed by Oda Nobunaga. It's the oldest extant building in the southern part of the Kii Peninsula.

I was here because it is the first temple on the Saigoku Pilgrimage dedicated to Kannon, and probably the oldest pilgrimage route in Japan. According to the legend it was founded in the 4th Century by a monk from India. In the first years of Meiji Buddhism and Shinto were forcibly and artificially seperated but still today the complex occupies the same space.

En No Gyoja, legendary founder of Shugendo, an ecelectic mix of Daoism, Mountain worship, Shinto, and esoteric Buddhism. Seigantoji is part of the Kumano Sanzan, the three sites in the Kumano region that were a major center for Shugendo in historical times.

It's a fairly large complex spread over the mountainside. Previous posts include the trail leading up to the complex, the shrine complex right next door, and of course the pagoda with waterfall behind.

Above the main hall is the Nyohodo, the Hall of Lanterns, dedicated to Daikoku, one of the 7 Lucky Gods.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Original 24 Eyes School

24 Eyes ( Nijyushi no Hitomi ) was one of the most popular Japanese movies ever. The original was made in 1955 and was set in an elementary school on Shodoshima which was also the actual location for the filming.

In 1987 the made a remake of the movie but development had made location filming difficult so a fake village and school was built a few k down the road and is now a  movie theme park...

There were far fewer visitors at the real school.

There are hundreds and hundreds of these old schools abandoned all across the Japanese countryside, a few being conserved, but most not....

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Traditional Buildings of Mimitsu

Mimitsu is a small village on the coast of Miyazaki just south of Hyuga City. In the Edo Period it was an important port town and really only declined with the introduction of the railway in the early 20th century.

At it's peak there were over 1,000 homes, shops, and storehouses, and because the town was pretty much bypassed by development many of these traditional structures remain and the village is a Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.

Like quite a few of these districts it is somewhat off the main tourist track and so has not been gentrified and turned into twee cafes and gift shops and therefore feels quite authentic.

I passed through quite quickly when I visited while walking the Kyushu Pilgrimage, but in a couple of weeks will be going back and spending the night there so will eb able to do some more exploring.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Yokeiji Temple Shrine Complex

Located on a hilltop overlooking the Yoshii River east of Okayama City, Yokeiji is a Tendai temple complex that I have posted about previously, on the pagoda, and the lotus blossoms.

It was founded in 749 and grew to be quite a large complex with numerous halls, sub-temples, and shrines within its grounds.

As well as the pagoda there are numerous other buildings and statues that are listed as Important Cultural Properties, like this bell tower. In some of the sub temples are nice, but small gardens.

It is quite a pleasant place to wander and explore and is not a major tourist spot so is nice and quiet. Ther are also a number of shrines which i will post about later...

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hyuga City to Takanabe: Day 20

The weather was improved on my twentieth day walking around Kyushu. It was a long day but filled with sights. The route hit the coast at several points during the morning.

The village of Mimitsu was a pleasant surprise. With a historic district of traditional buildings but not a big tourist destination it seemed a little more authentic and lacking in gift shops and cafes.

There were three of the pilgrimage temples to visit today, with one having a delightful waterfall for purification with the attendant Fudo Myo statues.

There were also lots of shrines including the Ichinomiya, the highest ranked shrine of the province, with a nice koi pond and gardens.

I will be walking this section in a couple of weeks on my next leg of the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage and am looking forward to doing some deeper explorations of the area.

Monday, September 17, 2018

More Shisa of Taketomi Island

Shisa are the magical creatures found on rooves and gates all over Okinawa. Similar to Japanese komainu, though found most often on homes.

Very much "folk" artifacts, though also made by artisans, most are somewhat comical in appearance.

All these posted here are from Taketomi Island, the small island known mostly for its ox-carts.

Like komainu they are often found in male-female pairs, and in different postures.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Eiganji, Kadogawa

The 33rd temple of the Kyushu Shingon Pilgrimage of 108 temples is Eiganji, located in Kadogawa, overlooking a picturesque bay flanked by two peninsulas.

It's a small temple and the main hall is made of concrete, though it claims to originate in the 9th Century.

The honzon is Yakushi Nyorai and is said to be even older, dating back to the Nara Period. It is a Hidden Buddha, and so can not be viewed.

There are a few statues in the grounds including this Kannon, and also a small Inari Shrine.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Kunisaki Yayoi Village

Approaching Kunisaki Town from the west, a few kilometers inland was a reconstruction of a Yayoi Period village. Across the road was a small museum.

Yayoi period dwellings and structures are very much in the style of regions much further south, SE Asia and even pacific islands.....

The location was typical of where the Yayoi settled..... in an alluvial valley where the soil was soft enough to be worked with only wooden tools. Later with the spread of iron they could colonize further inland where the soil was harder and rockier.

Though the Yayoi Period covers many centuries, it is claimed that this site was settled around the 3rd Century.

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