Sunday, December 30, 2018

Chichi Sugi... the Boob Cedar


Chichi Sugi, which translates as Boob Cedar is an 800 year old tree on the slopes of Mount Daimanji on Dogo, the biggest of the Oki Islands.

It is an Urasugi, a species that grows on the Japan Sea coast where heavy snowfall causes the trees to produce stronger lateral branches. The rounded protuberances growing down from the branches... which is the origin of its nickname "boob", are believed to help absorb moisture from the air.

Cold air rising from the gaps between the big rocks that form the slope meet warm air from the sea and mean that the area is often misty.

It is one of several sacred trees on the island that are well worth seeking out.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Tsunomaki Shrine


On the 20th day of my walk around Kyushu I was attracted to splashes of color on a hillside. This was Tsunomaki Shrine, and the hillside had been denued of trees and replaced with Azalea bushes which, along with some cherry trees, were blooming.


The shrine has been here for a long time as it is listed in the Engi Shiki, a tenth Century document that listed shrines receiving offerings from the central government.. The kami now enshrined here include Amenominakanushi, Takamimusubi, and Kamimusubi, all kami that the Kojiki lists as creators of the universe, but which only became enshrined in shrines in the late 19th Century when the government removed all traces of Buddhism as well as local deities.

The shrine is known for protection of livestock and includes a memorial to the cows that were slaughtered during a recent outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Seasons Greetings


Seasons greetings to you all. This is the Christmas market and illuminations in front of Kagoshima Station.

Christmas Day is just another workday in Japan for most people, but Christmas Eve is celebrated by eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, and taking your lover to a Love Hotel. Both of these unique and ancient Japanese traditions no doubt date back at least to the Heian period if not much earlier to the dawn of Japanese history.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Kaneko Misuzu


A mural of Kaneko Misuzu in her hometown of Senzaki, Nagato on the Japan Sea  coast of Yamaguchi. Born in 1903, she started writing poetry and nursery rhymes at age twenty. She was in an abusive marriage and her husband passed on an STD to her as well as forbidding her from writing. She committed suicide aged 26. Her work was rediscovered in 1972 and has since been traslated into numerous languages.

The mural is interesting as each tile is inscribed with a message from either a local resident or a visitor to Senzaki. Several other similar murals can be seen around the town and the idea has grown so that now a building has been opened as a modern art installation featuring such tiles along with lighting and projection.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tour Boats for Marine Alps


Tour boats in the harbor at Nagato on the north coast of Yamaguchi. The coastline of nearby Omi Island is full of cliffs, spires of rock, sea caves etc and is known as the Marine Alps. I first glimpsed the Marine Alps from a small yacht on a misty morning as we sailed by, but they re much more impressive close up. Wishing you all a great Solstice and holiday season and best wishes for the new year.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Heiwa Dori Illuminations


Heiwa Dori is the wide boulevard in Hiroshima City that runs up to the Horoshima Peace park. There are pedestrian park spaces running along either side of the road and during December they are filled with illuminations.


Illuminations are not normally my kind of thing, but we were in the city for the night and not far from Heiwa Dori, so we braved the coldest temperatures of the winter so far to see what was up.


It was surprisingly enjoyable with not so many people out and about and a complete lack of commercialization. The illumination ran for about 800 meters on both sides of the road .


I quite liked the phoenix, but my favorite was a simple one.... a huge tree with spreading boughs......


Monday, December 3, 2018

Hunting the late Fall colors in Omori


It has become one of my traditions that I spend much of November walking along some pilgrimage trail or other enjoying the color of Fall. Unfortunately this year a bout of ill health followed by a period of hospitalization meant that I missed much of November.


We took off one day and headed up to the village of Omori in Iwami Ginzan in the hope of catching the last remnants of color and was able to find some. The hillsides still had some color to them, and though most of the ginkgo trees were naked there was still somewhat of a carpet at one of the small temples.


A few of the small gardens still had some maples, but the best colors were to be found at shrines.


The big Hachimangu at the northern end of the village still had much to be seen, but the best was at the Ido Shrine on the opposite side of the river, and not usually visited by tourists....


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