Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Hachiman Shrine in the Asami district in the south of Beppu City is the tutelary shrine of the town, and was founded in the 12th Century.
The entrance is flanked by two ancient cedars and the local tradition says that if a couple walk together between the trees they will be married.
Hachiman shrines, in Kyushu at least, tend to have retained more of their earlier decoration and are often painted a a dark red, rather than the vermillion associated with imperial or Inari shrines.
Since the Heian Period the kami nof Hachiman shrines have been equated with the legendary Emperor Ojin, and the kami are usually listed as Ojin, his mother Jingu, and father Chuai. Sometimes Ojins wife is listed too.
Now called the God of War, Hachiman has had a multitude of varying identities. The best resource in English on Hachiman is the American researcher Ross Bender, and many of his papers can be found here
The shrine has various interesting things within its grounds, some unusual-shaped stones in the walkway, a pure water spring, a treasure house
This huge camphor tree is said to be over 1,000 years old.
There are several sub-shrines in the grounds, but have been unable to find out exactly which kami they enshrine.
Monday, November 29, 2010
I was more conscientious with my gardening this year. I'm usually quite a lazy gardener.I spent a lot more time with preparation and weeding. I might as well have spent my time playing pachinko.
Unseasonable weather and hungry critters really took their toll. Yields of most crops were down to 10% at times.
Millet did OK, but the grains were much smaller than last year.
Hung the black beans up to dry last week. Late as usual.
Went out about an hour later and there was a bloody great monkey helping himself.
An hour later he returned with some of his buddies but by then I was stripping the pods from the plants and bringing them indoors to dry.
The wild boar have been much more troublesome this year too. They took some of my taro and sweet potatoes, so I dug them up early, but the boars still came back most nights and rooted around in the gardens causing damage.
The sweet potato crop was good again this year though, and its nice to pop a couple in the dutch oven on the woodstove each evening for a late night snack.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
The industrial "heartland" of Japan extends primarily from North Kyushu along the Pacific Coast up to the Tokyo area. This is where most Japanese now live.
These shots are taken in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and I have no idea what is produced or manufactured here.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Since I started to make masks myself I have become interested in searching out examples of older, wooden masks.
Shrines are a good place as many of them have old masks on display.
The red demon is often paired with the white demon.
All of these masks were at shrines on the Kunisaki peninsular in Oita Prefecture, northern Kyushu.
You can see a couple of my red demon masks here.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The NCB Seaside Building houses the offices of several major banks. It is a fairly nondescript office block with little architectural merit except for the entrances located on the corners of the building.
It is located in the Momochi district of Fukuoka.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I arrived in Cambridge to a drizzly, grey day, though it was possible to find a little color in the grounds of a small, old, church.
I had visited Cambridge once when I was a schoolkid, but I have almost no memories of it.
One thing I do remember is punting on the River Cam.
A lot of the colleges have nice gardens.
Like its older counterpart in Oxford, Cambridge gets a lot of tourists, but I think Oxford gets more.
You are never far from one of the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University, the oldest was founded in the 13th Century.
More Nobel Prize winners hail from Cambridge University than any other single institution in the world.
Every college has its own chapel.
I also stopped in at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The shrine of Arisa is located in a cave about 90 meters above the Takahashi River near Niimi in Okayama Prefecture. To get to the shrine you have to walk and climb through 1 kilometer of the Ikura cave.
Arisa was a local girl who lived in the village about 400 years ago. She had a boyfriend called Mosaku. Apparently all was well until one day the daughter of the local lord passed through the village. This girl/woman was so stunninbgly beautiful that even as far away as China they had heard about her great beauty.
Mosaku became smitten by this girl and left the village to go after her and try to win her hand.
He never did come back.
No longer able to stand her grief Arisa climbed up to the top of the waterfall that drops down from the cliff above the cave and threw herself off.
The villagers built the small hokora for her.
For some reason, the logic of which defies me, the shrine is now a place where young couples come to pray for good relationships.
Unfortunately the only way to reach the shrine is to pay to enter Ikra-do, but it is well worth it.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
On Sunday I went down to Gotsu for the annual Kagura Festival, but after a few hours indoors I couldnt stand it any longer... outside was another beautiful clear day and as we have had so few this month and as the good weather was not likely to last, I headed off for another walk.
I got off the train in Kawahira and headed up the tracks.
This section of the river has no road on this bank, and as it was 90 minutes or so till the next train I reckoned I could get along the tracks before it came.
There are a few abandoned farms along this side of the river....
Closer to Kawado I passed by a place that has fascinated me since I moved here, a hidden valley. The entrance is very narrow and choked with bamboo and undergrowth and there appears to be no trail in, but one of these winters when the undergrowth has died back Im going to try and find a way in...
Though its the longest river in West Japan, the Gonokawa is not well known but I have yet to see a river in Japan that is more beautiful.
I arrive safely into Kawado without encountering the train.
Kawado, the bustling commercial hub of Sakurae Town.......
Monday, November 22, 2010
After my brief exploration of the abandoned school I carried on into Kawahira.
There is not much to Kawahira,... a couple of temples, a shrine, a koban, a railway station,.... no shops.......
I climbed up to the local shrine, a place we have visited several times for matsuri.
Down from the shrine I get to the station where I have to wait 10 minutes for the next train. 5 trains a day in each direction. I get off next station up the line, Kawado.
Heading across the bridge to my village I notice it is starting to cloud over.........
For a final blast of Fall color hanging down a neighbors wall......
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Coming into Kawahira I stopped in to explore the old abandoned school
There are hundreds and hundreds of abandoned schools in the countryside of Japan. As the population has fled to the cities student numbers decrease until a community can no longer sustain a school.
Many of them get used as community centers.
This one had some machine tools and so was used for something, and also used for storage of agricultural equipment, straw, etc.
There were many holes in the roof and consequently the floor was in bad condition so I didnt try to explore upstairs.
A few more years and this building will collapse in on itself. Maybe a few years later it will be bulldozed. A few years after that they will maybe try and get it listed as a World Heritage Site.