Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steel Hut


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The Steel Hut, along with the Silver Hut, make up the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture.

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Unsurprisingly it was designed by architect Toyo Ito.

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It is located near the small fishing village of Munakata on Omishima in the Seto Inland Sea between Hiroshima and Shikoku.

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On the website for the museum you can download the plan of its design and construct one yourself out of paper........ here

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The building consists of four different polyhedrons and is constructed in steel.

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Construction finished and the museum opened in 2011.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The tallest stone torii in japan


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This is the biggest (tallest) torii made of stone in Japan. It is located in front of Warei Shrine in Uwajima, Ehime, on Shikoku. It is 12.5 meters tall. Many sources claim the stone torii at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto as the tallest, but it is a mere 9.5 meters tall.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 7 Jurakuji


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Only one kilometer from temple 6, Jurakuji is the eighth temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The name means "temple of ten Joys" and refers to the 10 joys awaiting believers after death.

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There were many Mizuko Jizo in the grounds, the small Jizo statues erected for the souls of aborted children.

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This wonderful statue is of Aizen Myo-o, one of the wrathful, fierce-looking deities originally Hindu but now seen as emanations of the 5 Wisdom Kings. Aizen, known as the King of Sexual Passion,  converts lust into spiritual awakening and saves people from the sufferings associated with love.

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Jurakuji was, according to legend, founded by Kukai who also carved the statue of the main deity Amida Nyorai.

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The temple complex used to be much larger but was burned down in the late 17th Century and rebuilt later, though the current main hall only dates from the Meiji era.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A day in tunnels


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It is impossible to walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage without walking through a variety of tunnels.

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I haven't sat down and calculated how many kilometers of tunnel you walk through, but it must be at least 20k and more probably double that, and in walking that is more than a day of distance.

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It is possible to avoid some tunnels by taking a path up and over the mountain, but if you are carrying 20 kilos and/or the weather is bad then the tunnels makes sense....

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Some of the tunnels are new, well lit, and with a decent sidewalk.

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Some are old, dark, and narrow with just a painbted line separating you from the roaring traffic.

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There are also quite a few traffic-free tunnels for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kanzui Matsuri 6


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So, it's about one-thirty in the morning and the sixth dance of the matsuri begins, Daikoku and Ebisu.

There is not really a story, rather the two characters, both members of the 7 Lucky Gods of Japan, engage in pantomime.


Daikoku was originally a Hindu warrior deity, but in Japan by the 15th century he had become the jolly, pudgy character associated with wealth and good fortune. Hitting the people on the head with his magic mallet will bring them good fortune.


When Ebisu dances he often goes through the comedic routine of catching a Sea Bream.

Daikoku and Ebisu are often seen as a father-son pair through the association with Okuninushi (written with the same kanji as daikoku) and Kotoshironushi, seen as Ebisu.


What the kids in the audience have been waiting for is for the lucky candy that Ebisu throws out.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jinpukaku


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Jinpukaku is a European-style mansion originally planned as a villa for the Ikeda family, the former Lords of Tottori. It was built in the first decade of the twentieth Century.

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There is a nice Japanese style garden to the rear. The mansion is located at the base of the ruins of Tottori castle.

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It was the first building in Tottori to get electric lights.

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Crown Prince Yoshihito, later to become the Taisho Emperor, stayed here on his tour of the San-in region in 1907

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The house has a small collection of items relkating to the Ikeda Clan, and the rooms are elegantly furnished, but the main attraction is the spiral staircase.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kijo. Demon Woman Mask


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There are several kagura dances that have women who become demons, and the Kijo mask is one used in the transformation.

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Momijigari (shown above), Kifune, and Kurozuka, are three such dances that feature variations on the mask.

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There should be a few more weeks of wintery weather so I should be able to get soem more masks finished :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Second Suwa Shrine in Itano Town


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Only about 3k from another Suwa Shrine, this second one in Itano Town, Tokushima, has a huge camphor tree at the entrance.

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Believed to be around 700 years old, this venerable kusonoki grows to more than 35 meters in height.

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The enshrined kami at Suwa shrines are Takeminakata, the son of Okuninushi who refused to hand over Izumo to the Yamato, and his wife Yasakatome. By the Heian Period the kami was called by the name of Suwa Myojin, the "bright shining deity of Suwa.

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The cult of Suwa Myojin spread far and wide due to its association with, among other things, wind, hunting, and battle, though its spread is most likely due to the samurai who worshipped it as a kami of battle.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vacation 2011 Day11 on the way down


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I had been trekking in the Jebel Sahro before, and for the last three days we had passed through familiar territory, but from now on it was all new to me. The route mostly followed a high-desert valley downwards.

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We passed a small group of camels belonging to a nomad family who had moved back into the high country after having wintered in the warmer lower elevations with their flock.

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Gradually more and more ribbons of green appeared, and in this arid country wherever there is green people will have homesites....

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Lower still and the signs of humans increase. Eventually we stop at a small store and enjoy warm sodas. Then the tower of a mosque appears, the first since entering the Jebel, a sure sign that we are nearing a road.

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The sunset was sublime. Most of the group sat inside the tent chattering, seemingly unaware or indifferent to its beauty.....

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Nio of Kunisaki part2

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Nio, the guardian statues flanking the entrance to many temples are also known as Kongorikishi, though the gates they are often found inside are called Niomon. Most Nio are made of wood, but on the Kunisaki peninsular in north Kyushu they are made of stone. This first one is one of a pair at the start of the steps leading up to Futagoji roughly in the center of the conical peninsular.

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Another pair can be found within Futagoji's grounds at the bottom of the steps leading up to inner halls higher up the mountain. One of the pair always has an open mouth, Misshaku Kongo, and Naraen Kongo with his mouth closed.

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Originally from India, many historians believe there is a connection between them and Greek statues of  Heracles (Hercules) that may have been transmitted along the Silk Road 2,000 years ago. This Nio is at Fukiji, believed to be the oldest wooden building in Kyushu.

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This modern one stands in front of a shrine, not a temple. Kunisaki was home to a unique type of Shugendo that mixed Tendai Buddhism with the "shinto" of nearby Usa Hachiman. Known as Rokugomanzan, stone was  the dominant material for statues and the area is home to the biggest cliff-carvings in Japan.

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This final one (for now) is at Sempukuji. Kunisaki is one of my favorite areas. many more posts on the area can be found here. Nio are also a favorite topic of mine, and lots more can be seen here

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Manhole Birds




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Toyono Town in Kumamoto Prefecture uses an image of the ugusui, Japanese Bush-warbler.

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Up in Matsue, Shimane soem of the smaller draincovers around the castle moat feature the swan, hakucho in Japanese.

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Saijo City in Ehime on Shikoku features a pair of kingfishers, kawasemi in Japanese.

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Susaki in Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku also featurtes a kingfisher.

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Noichi, also in Kochi, no longer officially exists as it has been merged into a new municipality of Kamita. Among the daffodils flies a Hibari, skylark

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