Saturday, January 20, 2018

Yasaka Shrine, Usuki

This is  branch of the famous Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto that was known as Gion-sha, and is still referred to by that name locally. As a Gion shrine is enshrines Susano and his "wife" Kushinadahime. I'm not sure exactly when it was founded but when Otom Sorin became a Christian and destroyed the shrines and temples the goshintai of this shrine was moved around various places and hidden.

It seems to be the main shrine of Usuki now, and in the late Meiji and early Taisho eras many subsidiary shrines who moved into the grounds as part of the shrine closure program.

There is a Hachiman Shrine but that was established in 1683 as a branch of Iwashimizu. There is also a Tenmangu with its Ox statue.

There is an Inari shrine and an Awashima Shrine and a cuple of others......

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum

Located in the capital, Naha, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum share the same massive structure and have a common lobby.

It opened in 2007 and was designed by Ishimoto Architetcural & Engineering, a company founded in 1927 by Kikuji Ishimoto, a contributor to the New Architectural Secession Movement.

It's made out of local limestone and is modelled on the forms of the gusuku, traditional Okinawan castles. In bright sunshine it appears almost white, but in other conditions looks quite drab.

Both museums are worth a visit if you are in Naha.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Inaba Shimo Yashiki

The Inaba were the feudal lords of the Usuki Domain in present-day Oita for most of the Edo Period. When the domains were abolished in the late 19th Century the famiy were made peers and moved to Tokyo

Shimo Yashiki means "lower samurai residence", bvut what it means in this case is "second home". In the first decade of the twentieth century this large residence wwas built for them to stay in whenever they visited Usuki.

Though built in modern times it is a traditional set of buildings and also has some nice gardens.

It is located not far from the castle ruins in downtown Usuki, and if you enjoy traditional japanese architecture it is worth a visit.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kumanosha, Kunisaki

As I wander around Japan I notice that some areas seem to have a lot of shrines, and in some areas they are far less common. In the areas with a lot of shrines they usually seem to be well visited. There are plenty of signs of activity, though usually they are empty. In the other areas the shrines seem almost abandoned, with little decoration and grounds not well kept.

The Kunisaki Peninsula is one of the first types of area,... there are a lot of shrines. This one, a Kumanosha, was the fifth one I visited in this morning of my second day walking around the peninsula hunting the fall colors.

According to the signboard it was founded in 725 during the reign of Emperor Shomu. The ony kami listed is Izanami.

The sign also mentioned that in the early Taisho era it was registered as an official village shrine. I suspect this was in response to the governments program of the time that ended up closibg half the shrines in the country. Many more would have been closed but in some areas, like Kunisaki I suspect, the people resisted the governments program and found ways to keep more of their shrines open.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Usuki Gokoku Shrine

In the grounds of Usuki castle was another small shrine, founded in 1879 after the castle had been dismantled, the size of the trees and the pond and landscaping certainly suggests something was here before that.

It is a Gokoku Shrine, basically a local version of the infamous Yasukuni Shrine that enshrines the spirits of those who died fighting for the emperor.

In pre-modern times the castle was the focus of political power, and once the castles were dismantled upon the creation of the modern state of Japan many of the castle ruins had Gokoku shrines built within them to give these new state-worshiping shrines legitimacy.

I suspect that there was a shrine here before but I may be wrong

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ocho to Akashi Ferry

The small ferry that connects Ocho on Osakishimojima Island with Akashi on Osakikamijima Island is only a ten minute journey and the distance is probably less than 3 kilometers.

It passes right under the Okamura Bridge, the last of the seven bridges that connect the islands along the Tobishima cycle path.

I recently published a piece on that cycle route over at JapanVisitor.....

Like all the short ferry journeys throughout the Inland Sea area, the views are pleasant and ever changing......

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