Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Seiko Medical Beauty Clinic

Near the waterfront in downtown Kagoshima I came across this rather futuristic-looking building.

It houses a plastic surgery clinic and I can find no information about the architect.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

On top of Mount Kannomine

Mount Kannomine, 425 meters above the sea on Osaki Kamijima in the Inland Sea, is the highest poinbt on the island and where I chose to spend the night on the second day of my walk along the Akinada chain of islands. This link will take you to the other posts from  that walk and the views of sunset from Kannomine.

As well as an observation point that offers stunning views across the Inland Sea, there are two, small religious sites, a Shinti shrine and a Buddhist temple. The shrine is a branch of Ishizuchi Shrine, the famous shrine on top of Mount Ishizuchi, the highest point on Shikoku, and a center for yamabushi and tengu.

Like the shrine, the small temple was also a concrete structure, and it was a Yakushi-do. It had a nice. small Fudo Myo, but the big surprise was a wooden phallus.

Other than a couple of famous sites and shrines in some of the big cities, phalli are far less common than they used to be and it is always a joy to find them in remote spots like this.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Daikanji, 45th Temple of the Kyushu Pilgrimage

Daikanji is a small, urban temple, number 45 on the 108 temple Kyushu Pilgrimage which I visited on the 30th day of my walk. It is a concrete structure elevated to make plenty of car parking space below it.

Unusually, on this pilgrimage at least, there was someone home when I visited. The priest immediately took me in front of a giant statue of Kannon next to a smaller one of Fudo Myo and offered prayers for my safety on the pilgrimage.

he then took me upstairs into the main hall and gave me tea and fruit. Osettai, the tradition of giving gifts to pilgrims that is well established on Shikoku, is less common elsewhere. Here on Kyushu it was usually priests who gave gifts.

There were several other Fudo statues among the many in the main hall and in other rooms....

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Across the Tatara Bridge

By lunchtime of my second day walking along the Shimanami Kaido that connects Honshu with Shikoku via six islands it was time to cross over from Ikuchijima to Omishima using the Tatara Bridge.

Considered by most to be the most elegant of all the bridges on the route, it was, when built, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, but has since been superceded by a couple of bridges in China.

The two towers are 220 meters tall, and the central span between them is 890 meters.

For cyclists and pedestrians, there are fairly steep approaches to get up to the bridge.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Ando's Inamori Auditorium in Kagoshima

While I was in Kagoshima I took the opportunity to visit the Inamori Auditorium on the campus of Kagoshima University. It was built in 1994 and was designed by famed architect Tadao Ando.

It's not one of his better known works, but does feature some of his trademarks, most obviously the use of undecorated concrete. However its main feature is a huge concrete egg that partially protrudes through the glass facade.

I would have liked to explore the interior space but the building was all locked up. Generally people either love or hate Ando's work. I like it.

I like the geometric division of space, the use of light and shade as well as reflection. I find his structures great for exploring and discovering.......

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Into Isotake

Early on the 3rd day of my walk along the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage I reached the coastal village of Isotake. Looking inland I could see Mount Sanbe where I had spent the night of my first days walk.

Isotake is named after Isotakeru, a son of Susano, said to be brother to the sun goddess Amaterasu. There are of course numerous versions of the ancient myths, but round here the story is that Susano and Isotakeru arrived in Japan from the Korean Peninsula at this spot. At the far end of the village is a  fishing port with a shrine whose records tell this story.

A common sight all over rural Japan are collapsing buildings. Once a traditional building is abandoned it doesn't take long for nature to begin the recycling process.

The narrow road through the village was formerly the Sanin-do, the main road that extended all the way from Kyoto. The village has now been bypassed by Route 9, a modern road. Soon it too will be superseded by a 2 lane expressway a little inland carried on tall concrete pillar and through lengthy tunnels.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Terukuni Shrine

The main shrine in Kagoshima City is Terukuni Shrine, marked with a huge torii.

Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is the tree in front pruned into the shape of a bird with outstretched wings. It is not an ancient shrine, being founded in 1863 and enshrining the daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Nariakira who ruled for 7 years until his death in 1858.

Like many of the modern shrines that worship rulers, politicians, generals etc I find it quite a sterile place. I personally can find nothing in his story that would make him an object of worship for me, but then I find authority based on violence and or wealth an unpleasant and disagreeable concept. He was one of the daimyo that supported the overthrow of the government and a return to Imperial rule, so it was an imperial decree that enshrined him as Teruluni Daimyojin

There is a museum in the shrine that does have a good collection of historical artifacts connected to the Shimazu rule though.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Raked Gravel and Rock

Considered quintessentially Japanese, gardens with raked gravel and rock are ubiquitous in Japan. Generally called "karesansui" they are often known in English as "Dry Gardens". Heavily associated with Zen, they are found not just in Zen temples but almost anywhere, secular or sacred.

The first photo is from Kanyoji Temple in the mountains of Yamaguchi Prefecture. I believe it was designed by Mirei Shigemori, one of the great garden designers of the 20th Century. The second photo is from the Yuushien Gardens on Daikon Island in the Nakaumi Lagoon between Shimane and Tottori. An excellent garden well worth a visit.

This third one is within the entrance area to a hot spring resort in the Okuizumo area of Shimane.

There is no shortage of karesansui gardens in Kyoto, but this 4th photo shows one of the lesser known ones. It is in front of the main hall of Shogo-in, a monzeki temple, which means it was home to a member of the imperial family.

This last one is also not such a well known garden, bgut also one that is well worth a visit. It is in the grounds of the ruins of Tokushima Castle and was part of the palace there.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year of the Rat

I struggled to find a photo of a rat for this years new year post, so this will have to do. I have always presumed it was a statue depicting the famous artist Sesshu as a child, as it was located near the temple where he trained as a monk and where the legend of Sesshu and the Rat is set, and I am almost certain that is the case, but Ive also seen many statues of cute childlike jizos with each of the 12 animals of the Chinese horoscope, so I suppose there is an outside chance it could be that.

Anyway I wish you all Happy New Year.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Mifune Shrine, Yoshino, Kagoshima

Heading down the busy main road to Kagoshima that runs between the bay and the mountains, at one point the road splits and on the "island" between the lanes was a small shrine set in a grove of trees. The small building was squeezed between 2 large rocks.

Mifune (3 boats) Shrine was founded in 1741, though a small. stone hokora was excavated here suggesting it was a sacred site before 1741. Mifune Daimyojin is considered a kami for protection at sea and also for fishermen. The titel "daimyojin", means, I believe something like "great shining deity" and is applied to many kami. I believe it is a somewhat Buddhist term.

There were numerous smaller altars around the main building, and many of them featured Buddhist statues, like this miniature Fudo Myo.

Was the road rerouted to avoid the shrine? In this case I suspect so, although there are plenty of example of shrines being relocated when they stood in the way of construction projects.

This bottom photo is probably a Benzaiten.