Friday, December 6, 2019

2019 Fall Colors Part 4 Ryosokuji Temple & Washibara Hachimangu


Next day we visited Ryosokuiji Temple, a small rural temple in an out of the way valley. However, it has grounds extensively planted with maple trees, and so is popular during the fall colors season.


Though it was overcast it did not disappoint, although in terms of architecture and statuary there was not much to see.


The small garden behind the temple and priests house looked intriguing but was hidden by a big fence.


heading back home we stopped in briefly at Tsuwano. Being the highest point on our trip the colors here were just about at peak. We went to Washibara hachimangu Shrine, famous for having the only genuine Yabusame grounds in Japan. Here ther was the classic mix of golden Gingko and red Maple...


Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 Fall Colors Part 3 Chomonkyo Gorge & Ryuzoji Temple


For the second part of my search for the Fall colors this year we headed to Yamaguchi. First stop was Chomonkyo, a pretty gorge in the mountains, and a section of the Chugoku nature Trail.


It was a glorious day with not a cloud in the sky. At the entrance to the gorge some maples had been planted, but most of the mountainsides were mottled with browns and yellows.


Next we headed to Ryuzoji, a temple at the head of a small valley outside of Yamaguchi City. Here there was a mix of maple and Gingko, though it was not at peak season yet.


The temple is known for a particularly old and large Gingko tree. There is also a waterfall and many statues of Fudo Myo.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

2019 Fall Colors Walk Day 2 Saba Kaido


On the second day I headed up the Saba Kaido, the old road that ran from Obama on the coast down through the mountains to Kyoto. I started in Ohara and first visited Sanzen-in Temple, and for me, this was my first visit.


The temple is known for it's extensive gardens and grounds, and as the sun peeked over the mountains they were truly delightful and at 8:30 in the morning not yet crowded.


Next I made a visit to Hosen-in, one of the smaller temples nearby. This had a garden to be enjoyed while sitting inside drinking tea, but also an unusual, smaller one that was walked through. This one I found more intriguing. There was more to see in Ohara but I had a long way to go so headed north....


After climbing steadily for several hours, by early afternoon I had crossed the pass and started heading downhill into Shiga. On this side of the pass the autumn colors seemed a little more further along than in Kyoto....


By late afternoon I reached Myou-in Temple in Katsurgawa, one of the Kinki Fudo Myo Pilgrimage temples and my reason for this walk.

Monday, November 25, 2019

2019 Fall Colors Walk Day 1 Kyoto


I missed my traditional autum colors walk last year because of a bout of pneumonia, and this year in my eagerness  I started a little early in mid November. Crossing the Katsura River early morning in Arashiyama, the hillside had started to turn......


At Osawa no Ike Pond next to Daikakuji Temple the clouds started to clear away to reveal some color...


On my first ever visit to Ninna-ji Temple there was not much color to be seen yet except in the eastern part of the temple grounds where there are a couple of shrines.


On my first ever visit to Jisson-in Temple in the northern suburb of Iwakura, the gardens were nice enough, but yet again the colors had only just begun....


I took the Eizan Line train to Kurama, and the famed Maple Tunnel where the train slows down for a couple of hundred meters so passengers can enjoy the colors, yet again it was just beginning....

Monday, November 11, 2019

Myotokuji Temple, Toyo Daishi


At the end of my 11th day walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage I had crossed the border from Tokushima into Kochi and was about bto start the long stretch down the coast to the cape. Myotokuji Temple, lo9cally known as Toyo Daishi, is not one of the 88 temples of the pilgrimage, nor is it one of the twenty extra Bangai temples on the route, yet it is well known to walking pilgrims.


Between the temple and a nearby shrine is a small waterfall for practicing purification by cold water. There was evidence of recent use.


The temple had a kind of hand-made feel to it, with not a lot of money spent on it, but lots of effort. It felt more like a "working temple" rather than a tourist attraction. I was particularly taken by a small statue of the 7 Lucky Gods in their treasure boat that had a glass sphere that caught the setting sun.


I spent the night here in my first experience of a tsuyado, a place to stay for pilgrims provided free by a temple. The priest seemed to hesitate before giving me permission, and later asked if I wanted any food.


Before the sun was up loud drumming and chanting came from the small main hall as the priest began the days rituals.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Kagoshima Prefectural Citizens Exchange Center


I'm not exactly sure why, but I found this to be one of the most attractive buildings in Kagoshima. I suspect it may be to do with the proportions, which I often find with modern Japanese architecture to be a little "off"


The space that intrigued me most, photographically-wise at least, was the centra; atrium space.


I have been unable to find out who the architects were....



Friday, November 1, 2019

Miko Mai Rehearsal


While exploring Kagoshima Jingu I watched to miko practising for a ceremony later that night.



Miko Mai, or Miko dance is believed to originate with the dance performed by the goddess Uzume in front od the cave wherein the sun goddess Amaterasu had hidden herself.


It is often sid it is the origin of kagura. I have seen it performed by single miko and by groups of 4 miko, but never by 2.


An earlier post with video of 4 very young girls performing can be found here


The ceiling of the shrine was quite stupendous. The performance of the dance was a little surreal without any musical accompaniment.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple 37 Iwamotoji


Iwamotoji is the 37th temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, and is reached, by foot at least, by quite long passage over the mountains. Fall colors were on full display when I arrived on my 20th day of walking.


Just to the NE of the temple is a shrine, and according to legend it was founded by Gyoki. Later Kobo Daishi came here and distributed 5 statues around various sites in the area. Many of these sites must have been shrines but when Shinbutsubunri, the separation of buddhas and kami, was implemented all five were collected here.


Usually a temple will have a single honzon, a main deity enshrined, but here there are five, Fudo Myoo, Kannon, Jizo, Amida, and Yakushi. The temple belongs to the Shingon sect.


Yeat another of the temples burnt down by the warlord Chosokabe, the current main hall was built in 1978. The ceiling is composed of more than 500 small, square paintings collected from all over Japan. The designs are not limted to Buddhist or religious themes.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Kagoshima Jingu


After getting my hotel room in Hayato I set off the explore the local shrine, Kagoshima Jingu, and was delighted to discover that this evening was going to be the Summer Matsuri and the shrine approach was lined with stalls setting up and large lanterns decorated with chidrens painting hung everywhere.


The wooden horse at the entrance was far more decorative than any other shrine horse I had seen because this one is how a horse is decorated for the Hatsu Uma Festival when the horse leads a procession to the shrine. The festival is said to originate from a dream had by the regional Daimyo who had slept at the shrine.


There are a lot of secondary shrines throughout the extensive grounds as this was the Ichinomiya, the highest ranked shrine in the province of Osumi which today forms the eastern half of Kagoshima Prefecture. The main enshrined kami are Hoori and Toyotamahime, the grandparents of the mythical first emperor Jimmu and legend says it was founded at that time.


This is the southern Kyushu variation of the founding myth of Japan that more usually places the activity further north in the mountains of Miyazaki around Takachiho. The ceiling of the main hall is decorated with hundreds of paintings of regional plants.


Also enshrined here are Emperor Ojin and his mother Jingu, collectively enshrined as Hachiman. There are quite a few huge camphor trees in the grounds too....

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Walk Along The Japan Sea Coast part 5 Asari Beach


The second leg of my walk exploring the beaches and coves of the Japan Sea coast began at Asari, with its white sand beach. Actually, access to the beach is not easy at the dunes behind the beach are covered in factories and other industrial sites.


Most of these factories are extracting the sand, some for use in construction, but one of the factories is processing the sand to make moulds for casting car engine blocks. I once helped an employee who had to give a presentation at a conference in the US and I learned more about the science of sand than I really wanted to know.


The most notable feature of the beach is the wind generators, which also stretch to the next beach and are also located on the hills behind Gotsu. Interestingly the generators are Danish and the steel towers are Korean.


A typhoon had passed by the day before and so it was quite windy and wild with lots of waves. On a still, sunny day the sea is usually turquoise. At the far eastern end of the beach it is actually a park, but there ais absolutely no infrastructure or facilities...... the park being just a kind of classification.


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