Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hinase, Okayama


I started my walk along the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage at the small port town of Hinase as this was the closest train station to the most easterly of the pilgrimage temples, number 3 Shoraku-ji.


As the towns draincover shows, it now includes the cluster of small islands just offshore.


The towns main industry is oyster farming, but obviously shrimp are another locally caught product.


The town is home to an unusual museum on Latin America. Started with the collection of a local man who collected arts and archeological artifacts from his visits to that part of the world, I really wanted to visit it but was there several hours before they opened and as I had a long day ahead could not afford to wait.


My route climbed above the town and headed inland.....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fudo Myo O of Shikoku part 6


Some nmore of the Fudo Myo statues found along the Shikoku Pilgrimage. This first one is at temple 38, Kongofukuji.


This one is on the approach to the main hall at Kanjizaiji, temple 40 located at Ainan in Ehime.


This rather unusual one was in a small roadside shrine not too far from Meisekiji, in Seiyo, Ehime.


The final 2 photos are from Ozu in Ehime, at Eitokuji temple, which is the 8th Bangai temple and more commonly known as Toyogahashi after the legend of Kobo Daishi sleeping under the bridge there.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Oi Shrine


Oi Shrine is a small village shrine on the shore of the Nakaumi. It is listed in the Izumo Fudoki and therefore must be at least 1300 years old. In the Fudoka it was called Oisha and the kami enshrined was Okuninushi. However the main kami is now Amaterasu, along with Amenokoyane, Nakatsutsu (one of the Sumiyoshi kami), Yamato Takeru, & Homuda Wake (Ojin), along with Okuninushi.


It woud be interesting to know why this whole slew of Yamato kami came to supplant the local Okuninushi, but I can find no information as to when or why this happened.


There is a small Inari shrine next to the main shrine, and, like all the shrines in the region, altars to the local Kojin, in this case 4 in total. Before the twentieth Century these would have been out in the local communities, but the government, in their bid to strengthen their new Shinto religion, closed many of the local shrines and forced the local people to move their altars/shrines to a central shrine more often than not enshrining a "national" kami.


It is obvious that these Kojin altars are the site of much more activity than the main shrine.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Shisa of Okinawa 3


Here are some more Shisa, the uniquely Okinawan version of guardian dogs. This first one is at the small museum inside the theme park Okinawa World.


This pair of very unusal ones were also in that museum. They look quite old and possibly are more closely related to the earliest imported from China.


This is a large, modern one outside a monorail station in Naha.


This little guy was peeking out up in the far north of the island.


And this one was on a traditional building in the grounds of the Prefectural Museum in Naha.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kora Shrine


Kora Shrine, located on the small hillside overlooking the Ohashi River just before it empties into the Nakaumi, appears to be just a small, local shrine, however it is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki, though using different kanji to write the name.


The kami enshrined is is listed as Tamatare, known as Kora no Tamatare, the main kami of Kora Taisha a big shrine near Kurume in Fukuoka. According to the myth he was a "minister" serving Jingu during the mythical subjugation of Korea. He is represented as having a long white beard. (Quite a handsome guy :))


The main shrine itself seems barely used, however there is a substantial altar to Kojin with a very, very long body, and thsi seems to be the main focus of the shrine.


Kojin is often called the Kami of the Hearth, but here in Izumo its identity is more complex. It is a mix of land kami, ujigami, Tanokami etc and is obviously the main kami for the people of the area, as opposed to the elite and rulers of the area.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Kibune Shrine, Bungokawachi


The Kibune shrine in Bungokawachi on the western side of the Kunisaki Peninsula is one of about 500 branch shrines of the Kifune Shrine just north of Kyoto. Curiously another 2 Kibune shrines are within a kilometer of this one.


Inside the main building was a fine red Oni mask, a pair of nice wooden zuijin, and a wonderful ceiling of paintings, many of which seemed quite recent.


The main kami of Kibune shrines are Takaokami and Kuraokami, formed from the blood of Izanagis sword after he slew the kami of fire that burned Izanami to death. They are both associated with water.


There is a small Inari shrine to the rear.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Amenokoyane Mask


It has been a long time since I have had the time to finish any masks, but finally......

It is Amenokoyane, and he appears in the Iwato dance as one of the kami performing rituals to try and entice Amaterasu out of the cave. A friend of mine who dances this character says it is one of the most difficult to perform because the knees are bent all the time to emulate the movements of an old man.

Amenokoyane is considered to be the ancestor of the Nakatomi, who became the Fujiwara, virtual rulers of Japan for centuries.

For any new readers, here is a link to my other masks.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Day 11 Higashi Matsue to Matsue


For the eleventh day of my walk along the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage I started fromn Higashi Matsue Station and crossed the Ohashi River which connects Lake Shinji with Lake Nakaumi.


The first part of the walk was along the western shore of Lake Nakaumi, which actually isnt a lake but a shallow lagoon.


There was a lot of shrines to visit, and also a lot of Kojin altars with their rope snakes. At one shrine I arrived as a ceremony was taking place, always a nice surprise.


I wouold visit 2 temples of the pilgrimage, before coming into Matsue, the Prefectural capital, and home to one of the handful of original castles keeps left in Japan.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mitarai Historic Preservation District


Mitarai at the eastern edge of Osaki Shimojima in the Inland Sea was once a major port, due in large part to its sheltered anchorage that enable many ships to safely wait for the winds to change to continue on with their journey.


The port prospered as daimyo as well as foreign embassies stopped here on their way to Edo. It also became a transhipment point in the Inland Sea and so warehouses and trading houses became established.


Mitarai was spared the development that plagued much of Japan in the latter half of the twentieth century and much of the architecture harks back to the Edo period. It is now a designated Historic Preservation District.


One of the preserved buildings is from what was perhaps the most important "product" of the town..... sex!..... at its peak about 20% of the inhabitants were prostitutes, and one of the brothels is now a tourist attraction...... more on that later....


Monday, January 5, 2015

Takeuchi Shrine


Takeuchi Shrine is a very popular shrine on the outskirts of Matsue., It shares the ground with Hirahama Hachimangu and there is an Inari shrine halfway up the approach steps.


The Hachimangu obviously enshrines Ojin, though usually with either his mother Jingu or his father Chuhai or his wife Himegami. The Inari shrine, again obviously, enshrines Inari which nowadays is considered to be Ukanomitama.


Curiously, considering he is purely Buddhist, there was a Daruma!! Though not so curious if you have even a minimal understanding of the religious history of Japan :)


The main kami enshrined here is Takenouchi no Sukune, a legendary figure associated with Jingu and Ojin and who lived 280 years hence the reason why many people come here to pray for a long life. According to the myth his life spanned 5 emperors and many clans claim descent from him, most notably the Soga.


He is enshrined at Ube Shrine in Tottori

Friday, January 2, 2015

Senko-ji, Onomichi


Senkoji is undoubtedly the most visited temple in Onomichi and is an icon of the city. Part of the Onomichi Temple Walk and temple number 10 of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.


It is a Shingon temple reputedly founded by Kukai himself in 806. The main deity is a Thousand-Armed Kannon and is opened to the public every 33 years.


The temple buildings are scattered around the outcroppings of rock near the top of Mount Senkoji and great views over the town and the islands of the Inland Sea can be had.


The most famous and prominent rock is the "Jewel Rock", 50 meters in circumference and 15 meters high it is topped by a spherical "jewel" that legend says glows at night and illuminates the surrounding sea. The temple is also popular for its miniature Jizo.


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