Sunday, March 30, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 13 Manpukuji


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After leaving Iishi Shrine I headed downstream to a larger valley and then headed further east up another small valley. Manpukuji is in a remote location and is little visited today.

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It is yet another temple reputedly founded in 745 by Gyoki, who also carved the main statue of the Thousand Armed, Thousand Eyed Kannon. It is only opened to view once every 33 years. The Nio were quite crude, the kind of "folk" art that I prefer.

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More steps up to the bell tower. This used to be a much larger temple complex located higher up the mountainside. It was a Kiganjo, an official prayer temple, for the Mori Clan.

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During the Warring States Period, the Amago and Mori fought many battles and during one the temple was burnt down. In the mid 16th Century it was rebuilt at a much smaller scale at the present location.

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It is now a Shingon temple.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pilgrim No More


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At 3:30 this afternoon I reached temple 108 of the Kyushu Pilgrimage, the Okuin of Temple 88 Chinkokuji, in Munakata. It has taken me 76 days to walk about 2,200 kilometers and I am bushed, but it has been a wonderful journey that has taken me to most corners of Kyushu. So for now I cease being a pilgrim..... until I start the Chugoku 33 hee hee.

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The way home......

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Equinox


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Last Thursday was the Spring Equinox, and it was also the day I began the final leg of my 2000 plus kilometer walk around Kyushu following the Kyushu 88 Temple Pilgrimage. First stop was Ohashi Kannon-ji, temple #76, in Yoshii, north of Sasebo. Behind the temple was this huge natural bridge. Certainly a big surprise.

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Later I left the main road and cut across the hills to visit Tabira Church. Christian cemeteries are not a common sight in most parts of Japan. Photos of the church can be found at this earlier post

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Then it was over the bridge to the island of Hirado. Temple #77 is Saikyo-ji.

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Then a trek up to the far north of the island to temple 78 which is at the beach where Kukai left on his journey to China in 804. This is a Shingon pilgrimage, so Kukai sites feature heavily.

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Back in the main town I just had time for a quick trip to one of the scenic spots, The View Of a Church and Temple. The church is the St Xavier Memorial Church. Photos of which can be seen here.

So now I am in Karatsu. Tomorrow I plan to visit the site where the earliest example of rice in Japan was found. All being well in 4 days I should reach Munakata and the end of my 78 day journey.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sefa Utaki


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Sefa Utaki is a World heritage Site on the southern coast of the main Okinawan Island. It was the most important sacred site for the royal family of the Ryukyus.

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There are a series of shrines but no buildings are left. The path up the hillside passes through the verdant sub-tropical forest and by limestone cliffs.

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At the highest point is Sanguii, a narrow cleft in the rock that leads to the most important altar. From here you can look down on Kudaka Island, the site where myth says the gods landed bringing grain and where the Okinawan people were created.

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It's possible to get to Sefa Utaki by bus, though they are not frequent. It is worth it if only to get out into nature.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Iishi Shrine


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Iishi Shrine is the shrine that Jyufukuji was built as a Jinguji for. It is a very ancient and important shrine being listed in both the Izumo Fudoki and the Engi Shiki. The main kami is Iishitsuhenomikoto, otherwise known as Amenohinatori or Takehiratori.

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The white fence behind the shrine surrounds a large rock, the goshinati of the shrine, and it was onto this rock that the kami descended. The rock itself is considered the honden. According to records from ancient Izumo, Takehiratori was the son of Amenohohi who was the first emissary sent by Amaterasu to convince Izumo to cede their land to the Yamato. According to the Yamato version of events in the Kojiki, Amenohohi sided with Okuninushi and did not get back in touch with the High Plain of Heaven, so they sent Takemikazuchi to convince Okuninushi. In the Izumo version however, Amenohohi did sent a message back and his son, Takehiratori descended and arranged the transfer of land, known as Kuniyuzuri.

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The Nihon Shoki also says that Takehinatori came with divine treasures that were placed in the Izumo Grand Shrine which suggests that the records of Gakuenji that state Izumo Taisha enshrined Susano originally may have some credence. Both Amenohohi and Takehiratori are considered ancestors of priestly lineage that functioned as head priests of Izumo taisha as well as governors of Izumo.

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There is a smaller secondary shrine within the grounds, Takuasha, that enshrines Kibitsuhiko.

What is also unusual about Iishi Shrine is that there are no komainu or shimenawa, in fact no "decoration" at all.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Iwasaki Shrine, Usa.


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In November of 2012 I went for a 5 day walk around and over the Kunisaki Peninsula, one of my favorite areas in Japan. I had been wanting to walk an old Shugendo pilgrimage route, but at that time had not yet found a reliable map of the route, however I did know that it started from Usa Jingu and headed east towards the peninsula and that is the route I followed.


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Several hours into the walk I was approaching Usa Station and came upon Iwasaki Shrine. There was no information board at the shrine but I have been able to dig up a little info.

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It was founded in 723 and the list of main kami is headed by Ojin and Jingu, and yet curiously its not called a hachimangu.


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There are a lot of secondary shrines in the grounds, including Kibune, Konpira, Sugawara, Inari, and Izumo.

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When I have finished all the posts on this walk I will post a chronological list, but for now all posts with kunisaki fall will suffice

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, Temple 12, Jyufukuji


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Located in a remote valley, temple 12, Jyufukuji, has no firm date for its founding, though it was a Jinguji so that suggests the Heian Period.

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Jinguji were temples built next to shrines, and Jyufukuji was built to administer to Iishi Shrine, which I have not yet been to but intend to. Iishi Shrine is listed in the Izumo Fudoki, so dates back to ancient times and is unusual in that it has no honden, rather behind the shrine is a large rock which functions as the honden.

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Originally a Tendai temple, in 1570 the local daimyo, of the Mori clan, converted it to Soto Zen

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It is now some distance from the Iishi shrine, so I suspect it was moved to its present location in early Meiji when most jinguji were destroyed or moved.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

A night on Teshima


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At the end of the first day of my walk across the Aki Nada Islands I crossed the bridge from Kami Kamagari over to Teshima.

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Teshima is very small with just one settlement on the opposite side of the island that I reached just as the sun had gone down.

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I had a room booked at a small minshuku. When I booked by phone they wanted to make sure I had the right Teshima, as there is a much more famous one further east in the Inland Sea near Naoshima and Shodoshima.

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The next morning I took the bridge over to Osaki Shimozima and from its shore could see the whole of Teshima in one view.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, Day 5


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Friday, May 18th, 2012, the fifth day of my Izumo 33 Kannon pilgrimage was yet another glorious spring day. Now I am off the relatively main road and my route will take me east through the inner Izumo area.

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There is virtually no traffic, save the occasional postman on his moped or a farmer in his kei truck.

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There won't be any villages until I come down into a river valley. Only scattered farms. This the the kind of country I love walking the most in Japan.

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The paddies here are planted a week or two later than down in the lowlands....

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Onomichi Temple Walk, Myosenji


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After visiting Ushitora Shrine, it was still too early for the first cable car/ropeway  up the mountainside so I carried on exploring temples. Nearby was Myosenji.

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It has quite an impressive approach and gate.

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With its raked gravel garden one might think it was a zen temple, but in fact it belongs to the Nichiren sect and was founded in 1354.

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The only interesting piece of information I have been able to find out about Myosenji is that behind the main hall is a Kiyomasa Kato-do, a memorial hall to the famous warlord who was known to be a big supporter of the Nichiren sect.

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