Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kannon-ji, Izumo City


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Temple 4 of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is Kannon-ji located in downtown Izumo City just off old Route 9.

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It is a Rinzai Zen temple and the main deities are Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, and the eleven-faced Kannon. I can find very little information about the temple and its history and I was there at the crack of dawn so there was no-one around to ask.

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Therewere a couple of shrines in the grounds, and this structure which contains, I believe, statues of the Judges of Hell.

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Prayer slips left by pilgrims. I was there in April and the cherries were in full bloom. There is a small bell tower, and possibly an Imperial Messenger gate which would indicate that the temple held some importance in earlier times.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Goh Shrine


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Coming down the small hill on which lies Oh Shrine there is a second small shrine, Goh Shrine, which enshrines Wake no Kiyomaro, a government official in the 7th Century.

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He is connected to the famous Dokyo Incident. Usa Shrine, now Usa Hachimangu, rose to power to a certain extent due to its oracles. One oracle in 769 suggested that the monk Dokyo should be the next emperor. Dokyo is often likened to Rasputin. He was very much in favor with Empress Koken after he cured her of an illness in 761. Wake no Kiyomaro was sent to Usa to check the oracle and came back with a second oracle refuting the first by saying that only descendants of Amaterasu, and not commoners could become Emperor.

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Under Dokyos influence the Empress banished Kiyomaro, but after her death he was recalled and promoted. He undertook an investigation and found that more oracles were deemed fraudulent and the head priest of Usa was removed.

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He is also credited with convincing Emperor Kammu to abandon Nagaoka and move to what is now known as Kyoto.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. End of the first day.


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After leaving Gakuenji the trail heads up into the mountains. On the other side is Izumo where I have a hotel room waiting....

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The first few kilometers of trail are part of the Chugoku Nature Trail, but near the top it branches off and heads along the mountains towards Izumo Taisha. One of these days I will walk that section. It was here that I came upon the deer skeleton.

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Over the pass and Izumo can be glimpsed through the trees....

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and in the direction of Izumo Taisha the Izumo Dome

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Once down, a look back at the mountains I had just crossed and then a straight line walk across the plain towards the town center with the paddies gradually being replaced by things urban....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Return of the Badger




Most evenings I hear the badger snuffling around just outside my house, so when I saw it yesterday afternoon I got out there with my camcorder and took a few shots....

other posts on the anaguma here

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gonokawa Matsuri Parade


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Last saturday was the Gonokawa Matsuri, the social event of the season in Gotsu. All the young females of the species were in their finest.....

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The parade consisted of a long line of various civic groups and clubs and companies each in their own style of outfit performing the "dance"..... very few people actually seeme dto be enjoying it....

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Kakinomoto Hitomaro, the famed 7th Century poet whose work is well represented in the Manyoshu. His wife, also a famous poet, was a local girl.....

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The one group that made a lot of noise and actually seemed to be enjoying themselves were the High School Rugby team.....

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And of course no parade would be complete without traditional Japanese hula dancers....

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kamagari Bridge


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The Kamagari Bridge connects Shimokanagari Island with Kamagari (sometimes known as Kamikamagari) Island in the Akin Nada Island chain in the Inland Sea in Hiroshima.

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It is a truss-style bridge with a span of 480 meters.

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It was completed in 1979, which I believe makes it the first of the 8 bridges that now connect the Akinada Islands.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Onomichi Temple Walk. Tenneiji


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The next temple on the Onomichi Temple Walk is Tenneiji

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Founded in the middle of the 14th century as a Rinzai temple, it is now a Soto sect temple.

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The pagoda behind the temple offers some great views over the town.

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The original pagoda had 5 storeys.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Contemporary Sacred Music & Dance at Mononobe Shrine



On Wednesday I came back one day earlier than planned from my Kyushu Pilgrimage because I found out that my friend Hiroki Okano and friends were performing at a local shrine. Part of their own Izumo Pilgrimage, they brought a flame from the Hiroshima Peace Park. On the previous night they performed at Gakuenji, and I would have loved to have been there but there was no way of getting back in time.

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Leading the improvised performance was Hiroki Okano on native-american cedar flute, keyboards, voice, & native drum. Hiroki has recorded with the well known  Navajo flute player R. Carlos Nakai, and even brought him over for a concert in a temple in Kyoto. One of his specialities is performing at sacred sites..... including Enryakuji on Hiezan. A full list of recent performances can be found here

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On didgeridoo and kalimba was "Matsu" and the drummer was Kajiwara Tetsuya...... I'm fond of drum solos, so.....


Kajiwara was the drummer with The Blue Hearts, who, I am reliably informed, were one of the top Punk bands in Japan

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On Taiko drums was Nobuhito Tomoka, and the dancer was Kunitomo Yuichiro. The dancer was excellent, but unfortunately my video cameras battery was flat.....

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He is the son of Kunitomo Suga, generally regarded as the "mother of modern yosakoi dance". Since her death 2 years ago Yuichiro has taken over Sugaren, one of the top yoakoi dance groups in Japan.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sanbe Dam


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The second temple on the Iwami 33 Kannon pilgrimage (actually the first "extra" temple) is located on the mountainside above Sanbe Dam. Thats Mount Sanbe behind.

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Seeing how aged the concrete is I was surprised to learn that the dam was not finished until 1996, although construction started in 1980.

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The dam is a little over 54 meters high and 140 meters wide at its crest and is composed of 110,000 cubic meters of rock and concrete. Ostensibly the purpose of the dam is flood control and to supply water to Oda City, but its real purpose is to funnel money to construction companies.

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The small reservoir has a capacity of 7,000,000 cubic meters of water.

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