Monday, April 30, 2012

The Biggest Fudo Myo-O


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My favorite of all the Buddhist deities in Japan is Fudo Myo-O, and so I had a very pleasant surprise a few days ago when I stumbled upon what is believed to be the biggest wooden  Fudo Myo-O statue in the world!

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The sculpture, including the base and the surrounding flames is almost 8 meters tall. Fudo himself is exactly 366 centimeters,... one for each day of the year with an extra one to take you into the next year. It was completed and installed in 2006 at the mountain temple of Rendai-Ji in southern Okayama. The statue was carved by Kyoto sculptor Araki Keiun.

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In front of the altar was a big wooden hand with a cord attached to it. The cord was made of five threads in the 5 sacred colors and it was connected to 5 colored ribbons.....

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..... held in the left hand of Fudo. Never seen that before....

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Rendai-Ji is part of a big shrine-temple complex on Mount Yuga. The site was once an important place of pilgrimage as pilgrims heading across the channel to Konpira-San would stop here first. After the Edo Period its popularity faded, though Konpira's didnt. The temple is now number 6 on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Walk from Honshu to Shikoku Day 2 (morning)


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I woke before the sun and headed off around the north coast of Ikuchijima and enjoyed the sunrise lighting up the surrounding islands. I got into the town of Setoda by 8 and my plan was to stop in at the Kosanji complex that opened at 9 so I sat on a bench and watched the town come to life around me. I had been to Kosanji before, but this was a different time of year, a different time of day, I had a new camera, and I was a few years older, so plenty of chances for new photos. earlier posts on Kosanji can be found here

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On top of the hill at the sculpture garden known as The Heights of Eternal Hope for the Future, the brilliant white marble was dazzling in the bright sunlight.

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After Setoda the coast road heads south to Sunset Beach, a really nice beach with an Onsen nearby that I had planned to stay at but as it was only lunchtime I decided to push on and try and get over to Omishima and then to Hakatajima.

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Ikuchijima is home to the "Island Wide Art Museum" which is a series 17 sculptures placed in public places around the island. Near Sunset Beach there were three that I found, including this one, Calm Time-Red Form / Inclination, by Keiji Uematsu.

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Ikuchijima is connected to Omishima by the Tatara Bridge,the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world when it was built.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kannon-in, Tottori.


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The Sanmon (main gate) of Kannon-in, a Tendai sect temple in Tottori City. Built originally in 1632 it was moved to its current location in 1639.

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The temple was built for the Ikeda family who had been installed as Daimyo of the Tottori Domain.

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The main deity is Kannon and supposedly the temple was given a statue of Kannon carved out of local rock by Gyoki in the 8th Century.

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It is temple number 32 on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Route.

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The main reason to visit the temple, if you are not a pilgrim, is for the garden.....

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gosho Shrine


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Gosho Shrine is located on a hillside not far from Kumadaniji in Awa City, Tokushima. It was originally located closer to the Yoshino River but a flood in 1699 caused it to be moved. Gosho means imperial palace and is named after a palace built in the area by ex-Emperor Tsuchimikado who is one of the two main kami enshrined here. the other is Susano. A strange combination.

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Tsuchimikado was born in 1196, the first son of Emperor Gotoba. He ascended the throne in 1198 at the age of 3 (4 by the Japanese way of counting age) after his father abdicated. At the ripe old age of 16 Tsuchimikado abdicated in favor of his younger brother. The real power behind the throne was the retired Gotoba, but this was the time of the rise of the Kamakura Shogunate and in the Jokyu war of 1221 fought between Gotoba and the Hojo, regents of the shogunate, Gotoba was defeated and sent into exile on the Oki islands. Tsuchimikado was exiled to Shikoku, first in what is now Kochi, and then later here to Awa.

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In 1227 Tsuchimikado built a palace somewhere near here and in 1231 he died at the age of 37. I have been unable to find out how he died, but I would guess that he was assassinated as it was not usual for emperors or ex-emperors to be enshrined unless they had died of political violence. Death under such circumstances would result in an "angry ghost" that would need placating. It was not until the modern period that most of the emperors who are now enshrined as kami became enshrined.

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Ther were quite a few old paintings in the main hall of the shrine, and I love the way that the pigments have faded and allow the woodgrain to come to the fore........

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Yet More Round Windows


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My previous posts of circular windows in Japan seem toi have been quite popular, so here are some more. This first one is in a garden fence at Garyu Villa in Ozu, Ehime.

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This one is at the small local history museum on the island of Okunoshima in Hiroshima Prefecture.

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Encho-en, a huge Chinese garden up in Tottori has many round windows....

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This one is from a park shelter in Sakaiminato, also in Tottori.

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This one is in Taishaku Gorge in Hiroshima...

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An office building in Matsuyama, Ehime.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vacation 2011 Day 14 In the Valley of the Roses


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After leaving the gite we wandered through the alleys of the village before emerging on the banks of the river in the Valley of the Roses.

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We followed the river upstream all day, sometimes needing to ford it. The water was cold and fast, being melted snow coming down from the Atlas Mountains.

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Unfortunately we were too early to find any roses, however poppies were very much in abundance in the gardens of the villages we passed through.

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One house had an unusual ornament on the roof......

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Further up the valley the geology changed and we could have easily been in Arizona....

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Camp was on the riverbank where the mules had plenty to drink and the chorus of frogs kept up all night....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fukuyama Roses


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Fukuyama is the second largest city in Hiroshima Prefecture and is known as the Rose City, so its not surprising that images of roses are everywhere. The bus I took to get there from Hiroshima City was called the Rose Liner.

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Obviously designs of roses adorn the local manholes and draincovers.

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I visited in March and could find no actual roses, though in May they hold the annual Rose Festival with more than half a million roses on display.Tthere were plenty of rose-related products for sale though.

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The rose was chosen as the symbol of the city in the early 1950's to give hope to the inhabitants whose city was 80% destroyed by allied bombing at the end of the war.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Inside the Tokoro Museum


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This is a follow on post from this earlier one. The most striking thing about the inside of the gallery is the wooden lattice roof that runs the length of the building and suffuses the interior with light.

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The long, narrow interior has the space divided into descending levels that go down the hillside. Some of the interior space is divided by curved partitions.

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The gallery/museum is located on the island of Omishima between Hiroshima and Ehime and is now part of the Shimanami Kaido which connects Shikoku to Honshu via a series of bridges and islands.

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At the lower end of the gallery is a small cafe and patio with fantastic views across the Inland Sea. The end of the building is completely open, allowing the wind and weather in and giving the feeling that the museum is outside.

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On display are contemporary scuptures belonging to the collection of wealthy art-collector Atsuo Tokoro, including artworks by Noe Katz, Marisol, Norichika Hayashi, and Takashi Fukai, none of whom I have heard of before as I no longer follow any kind of art scene.

Also on the small island are the nearby Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, the Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum, a big museum on the calligraphy of Murakami Santo, the Omishima Museum of Art, and several museums at Oyamazumi Shrine displaying samurai armour and weaponry, so worth spending a day there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 9 Horinji


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Temple number 9 of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage is named Horinji and is located in Awa City. The name means Dharma Wheel Temple though it is sometimes known as Hakudasan, White Snake Mountain, after the story that Kukai heard about a white snake that lived nearby and protected buddhists.

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The temple was located further up in the valley but was burnt down by Chosakabe in the 16th Century and rebuilt in its current location.

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The main deity is Shaka Nyorai, the historical Buddha, and the carving, attributed to Kukai, is unusual in that it is a reclining Buddha, uncommon in Japan, and the only one in the 88 temples.

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It is a Shingon temple and locally renowned for healing problems with feet and the waist.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Izumo Yayoinomori Museum


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Stumbled upon a brand new museum up in Izumo a few days ago. The Izumo Yayoinomori Museum is just across the road from the Nishitani Tumuli Park, a cluster of Yayoi Period tombs on the hill a little southeast of Izumo Station.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was entrance free to the main exhibition areas, but also that photography was allowed. There is nothing worse, to my mind, than paying an exorbitant entrance fee and then not being allowed to take photos.

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The focus of the displays are on the adjacent tombs, with examples of the grave goods excavated from them as well as diaramas showing how they believe the tombs were constructed, and the internal structure. Overall I was quite impressed by the displays and found them most educational, though there is little explanation in English.

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The adjacent tombs, 5 in all, were constructed in the early 3rd Century and are in the distinctive design uinique to this part of Japan, being square with 4 protruberences extending out from each corner. On of the tombs can be entered.

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