The weather during May remained unseasonably cool, so I talk advantage and went on another exploratory walk. I started in Nogi, now little more than a suburb of Matsue. A cookie-cutter town of convenience stores, pachinko parlors, and drab, utilitarian buildings.
My route was to roughly follow Route 24 up the Inbe River and over into the watershed of the Hi River around Suga.
After about 30 minutes I was in the foothills on narrow lanes with mostly older, more traditional houses. The person in this house is obviously really into bonsai!
As usual I stopped in at all the shrines along the way.
In the village of Noshira I found this that looks like a shrine, but is in fact a "kyo", translated as "church". Its a branch of Izumo Yashirokyo, a religion started by the then head priest of Izumo Taisha in the late 19th Century when the state basically told priests to stop preaching or dealing with "religious" matters. If they wanted to deal with religious issues they should found their own churches. The state had appropriated the Torii symbol, so only "shinto" shrines could have a torii, so many of the shinto-based Kyo simply use a simple gate with one crosspiece.
Also in Noshira I found an interesting shrine with a huge mask of Uzume or Otafuku. As Uzume is one of the kami enshrined here it is most likely her.
And then, paydirt!!!!! I found 2 examples of something I search for and hope to find on my backcountry explorations, a pair of Phalli!
I chatted for a while with a lady visiting the shrine, but she professed to not know anything about them, which may be true, but its more likely that she didn't want to talk about them with a foreigner.
I have an extensive collection of photos from small fertility shrines I've visited, but I've hesitated to post any as about half the visitors to this blog are from a certain North American country wherein many citizens react strangely to such topics. They either get offended and indignant, or they react like giggling Elementary schoolgirls.
Anyway, to have found these two really made my day and my steps had more spring to them.....
Route 24 is a fairly busy, 2 -lane road, that has been straightened a lot and bypasses many smaller settlements. I chose to walk the old sections of road that snake along the river. Its a longer walk, but there is almost no traffic, often the things to be discovered are in the small villages, and I'm more likely to meet friendly people. Sure enough I soon came upon a small unmarked shrine to Kojin with the rope serpent wrapped around the base of a tree. It looked like nobody had visited the shrine in a few years.
There were a lot of snakes of the non-rope variety out and about. This one was a bit over a meter in length. No idea what species it was, though if it was a 4-lined Rat snake I wouldnt be surprised.