Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ryoma Sakamoto Memorial Museum


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Ryoma Sakamoto was one of the most famous and popular figures from the time leading up to the Meiji Restoration. He was from Tosa, now known as Kochi, and his memorial museum is located in Katsurahama to the south of Kochi City.

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The museum is built on the hilltop overlooking the beach and ocean and projects out quite dramatically.

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The museum was opened in 1991 on November 15th, the anniversary of both his birth and death, and the architects were Workstation, the company name of two architects, Hiroshi Takahashi and Akiko Takahashi, and it was their first project together.

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The museum is open from 9 to 5 all year round and entrance is 400 yen for adults.

Take a bus bound for Katsurahama from Kochi

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Skittish Egret


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There are quite a few species of Egret (sagi in Japanese) in Japan, but I am not sure which one this is.

There are common, especially in rice paddies and rivers.

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They are far more skittish than their cousins the Grey Heron, and if you stop to take a photo even from a distance they will fly off.

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So I was really surprised to find one on the road while I was walking in the foothills of Izumo, but it did quickly fly off.

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Other posts on Egrets, and the Sagi Mai, incorrectly translated as the Heron Dance can be found here.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shikoku 88, Temple 22, Byodoji


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Temple 22 of the Shikoku 88 temple Pilgrimage is Byodo-ji, located near the coast in Anan City, Tokushima.

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Its name means "temple of equality" and it belongs to the Shingon Sect. The main deity is the healing buddha, yakushi Nyorai.

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According to legend it was founded by Kobo Daishi who also carved the statue of Yakushi. He also dug a well that produced milky white water which is believed to have healing qualities, especially for eye ailments.

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I was hoping to pick up some of the water, which is of course available for a small price, but unfortunately the water was not usable as the recent typhoon had contaminated the well with run-off.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Kumu Shrine & Shusai Hachimangu


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There are two shrines occupying the same site here, located just east of Izumo City across the river in Hikawa.

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The older shrine is Kumu Shrine, though in the Engi Shiki it is called Humuno Shrine. It has been in existence since at least the 7th Century as it is listed in the Izumo Fudoki. It was moved to its present site in the middle of the Edo Period. It enshrines Susano.

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The bigger shrine is Shusai Hachimangu and it is not known exactly when it was founded. Unusually it lists Susano and Homuda Wake as the main kamis, Humuda Wake being the name of the emperor who was known posthumously as Ojin

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Within the grounds are an Inari Shrine, a Wakamiya, a Miho, and Aragami.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Fudo Myo o of Shikoku part 3


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Here are some more examples of my favorite Buddhist deity, Fudo Myo, taken while I was walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage. This first, rather unusual statue was at a Yakushi-do on a side road near Awafukui in southern Tokushima.

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The rest of these are at the temple popularly known as Saba Daishi, the 4th bangai temple and the last temple before leaving Tokushima and entering Kochi.

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I spent the night at the temple in the tsuyado, a small room offered for free to pilgrims. Next to the main hall was a tunnel that sloped down and around to end in a large chamber beneath the main hall. The tunnel was lined with 88 statues representing the 88 temples of the pilgrimage, something I have seen several times.

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The dark chamber had a large altar to Fudo Myo. Late that night I heard a group of people going into the chamber through a side door right next to my room, obviously for some kind of ritual

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Ive heard many types of Buddhist ritual, but this was unlike anything I'd ever heard before, nor since. Usually there is drumming and chanting, but this drumming was much louder, much faster, and wildly frenetic and the chanting was more like growling and shouting. It was actually unnerving, an unusual state for me. In fact it sounded like a scene from a Hollywood movie where bloodthirsty savages in a state of possession are about to sacrifice a beautiful young virgin on a stone altar surrounded by flames, a la King Kong or Raiders of the Lost Ark. I left my room to see if I could see what was going on, but decided that opening the door would have been intrusive, and of course there were no windows....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Enya Shrine


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Enya Shrine is the tutelary shrine of Izumo and is located south of downtown. It used to be called Yamuya Shrine, and the main kami enshrined is Yamuyahiko and his wife Yamuyahime.

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Yamuyahiko was a grandson of Okuninushi, and other than that I can find no information about him.

The shrine is very old, being listed in the Izumo Fudoki of 720, as well as the Engishiki.

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Also enshrined in the main shrine is Kotoshironushi, Oyamazumi, and Ojin,.... a strange mix of kami. Enshrining Ojin makes it a hachimangu, though it is not officially named that,  it is considered the number one of Izumo's eight Hachimangu. Hachiman must have been enshrined here much later.

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Secondary shrines within the precincts are to Inari, Tenjin, and Aragami, among others...

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There was a nice pair of small, wooden komainu in the Zuijinmon.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Aiba Waterway Koi


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The carp-filled Aiba waterway runs through a quiet neighborhood in the southern section of Hagi.

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Originally a stream, it was canalized to prevent flooding and to provide irrigation to paddies. It was later widened and deepened to enable small boats to be used for transporting materials.

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Houses along the waterway built "hatoba", allowing the water of the canal to come into the kitchens and bathrooms where it could be used without having to go outside.

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Several of the houses are open to the public including the childhood home of Taro Katsura, Japans' longest serving Prime Minister.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kando-ji, Izumo


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The fifth temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is Kando-ji. It is also temple 23 of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.

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The Niomon contained a pair of quite crude Nio.

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Unusual, considering it is a Pure Land sect temple, it has a Daishi-do enshrining Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect.

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It was founded in 781. There was no-one around for me to ask what the connection to Kobo daishi is.

It is located towards the hills to the south of downtown Izumo.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shikinaen Udun


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Shikina-en is the royal garden of the Ryukyuan royal family near Shuri castle in Naha, Okinawa. The Udun is the palace within the garden, though villa might be a better word. It is a World Heritage Site.

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The Udun was constructed in the 17th Century with the garden being made later.

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It has 15 rooms with the traditional red tile roof that was only allowed for the highest levels of the society.

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As well as being used as a second residence, it was also used to entertain visiting dignitaries.

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It was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa and recontruction finished in 1995.

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