After leaving Unochi Shrine I continued downstream towards the first temple on this leg of my Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. It was May, and the azaleas that lined the road were stunning.
The local manhole cover doesnt feature azaleas though, rather cosmo flowers....
Within the azalea bushes were miniature replicas of Haniwa, the terra cotta figurines, often over a meter in height, that surrounded the ancient burial mounds. According to the ancient chronicles the haniwa were created to replace the practice of sacrificial live human burials along with deceased leaders. Most Japanese insist that such things never happened, though usualy the chronicles are treated as gospel.
Quite probably these roadside decorations are because a little way down the road is quite an important burial mound.