Saturday, June 22, 2019

Sunset from Mount Kannomine

425 meters above sea level, Mount Kannomine is the highest point on Osaki Kamijima Island in the Inland Sea off the coast of Hiroshima.

I had walked up from the coast below to spend the night at the end of my second day walking along the Aki Nada island chain. I have a fondness for sleeping out on mountaintops where I can get a good view for sunset and then sunrise.

The islands of the Inland Sea are particularly good for this, with great views across dozens of islands and islets. Unfortunately, on this day it was quite cloudy.

The first shot is from part way up and then the shots move from southeast to southwest. In the middle of the second shot you can clearly see some of the bridges of the Shimanami kaido.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Udo Jingu

Udo Jingu is a major shrine in a stunning location on the coast of Nichinan in the south of Miyazaki. The original route to the shrine was over a mountain, and while a few still take this route, most use a big pedestrian tunnel that cuts through the mountain.

The shrine is located in a cave in the cliffs and to reach it the path is along the cifftop with great views out to see. It is connected to the Hyuga myths I posted about recently, and it is believed to be the place where Emperor Jimmu's father was born and some versions say that Jimmu was raised here.

The path drops down before reaching the cave. In the rocks on the shore below is one shaped like4 a turtle. In its back is a depression surrounded by a shimenawa. Visitors purchase small ceramic balls and attempt to throw them into the depression, which brings good luck.

Inside the cave and the story will folow shortly...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Ikuchijima Island-Wide Art Museum

On the second day of my walk from Honshu to Shikoku along the Shimanami Kaido I left Kosanji Temple and started walking down the west coast of the island. On the beach looking westward was this statue, a Jizo I think.

A little further, set on a rock in the water was an unusual modern sculpture, "Wings of the Waves" by Susumu Shingu, one of 17 modern sculptures located around the island in what they call the Island-Wide Art Museum

Sunset Beach runs down the coast almost to the Tatara Bridge which crosses over to Omishima.

At the southern end of the beach another couple of sculptures. In the foreground is "Calm Time-Red form / Inclination by Keiji Uematsu, and in the background "Clairvoyance" by Shin Matsunaga.

Art can take many forms, but this old bus is not part of the Island-Wide Art Museum.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hyuga Myth Cycle

Part of Aoshima Shrine near Miyazaki is a small museum with tableux displaying the cycle of myths set in Hyuga, the old name for what is now Miyazaki. This cycle of myths are now very well known, but historicaly there were many different versions of the myths. It is only in the modern period that one particular version has been established as the "national" myth. For instance, in this first scene we see Amaterasu, commonly known as the Sun Goddess, giving rice to her grandson Ninigi before his descent to Japan to establish rule over the country. However, several versions of the myth say it was not Amaterasu who sent Ninigi, but another kami. Also, on the 3 tables you can see the 3 imperial regalia, but it seems that for some of the ancient, powerful clans there were only 2 regalia.

Reaching Japan Ninigi took himself a wife and she miraculously became pregnant after only one night. Ninigi suspected the father may not be him and his wife was deeply offended by this. She chose to undergo an ordeal by fire to prove she was telling the truth and in the burning birthing hut she gave birth to 2 sons.

There are several stories about the brothers, but one of them has one brother visiting the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King where he is given some powerful magic objects.

After returning from under the sea he marries a princess who gives birth to a baby boy who grows up to be Jimmu, the mythical first "emperor" of Japan and he sets sail from Kyushu to subdue the tribes of Japan and establish the current ruling dynasty.

There are many variations of the stories, including many versions of the characters names and even their genealogies. There is far more diversity in Japanese myths, histories, cultures, and peoples than the monolithic, homogenous versions being spouted and taught today. In the late 19th Century the people of neighboring Kagoshima were horrified to hear that these myths took place in Miyazaki, as they had similar stories that took place in Kagoshima.

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Shrine Less Visited

Walking the road less traveled one finds a shrine less visited. Early on the morning of my third day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage, I left the village of Shizuma and headed towards the coastal village and harbour of Isotake. The main road, Route 9, the old Sanin Do from ancient times, was busy and so I preferred to take a small lane that wound through the woods.

I love these type of roads. Very narrow, but with zero traffic, it's like having a nice, wide, smooth hiking trail. I have walked thousands of kilometers along such roads, usually up and over mountain passes, and there is no hassle with undergrowth, uneven surfaces, etc.. It was mid-December and the sun was low and so giving the light usually associated with "the golden hour"

Some overgrown steps lead up to a torii. This shrine is not marked on my maps, neither googlemaps, which sometimes doesn't have smaller, local shrines, nor my topo map which often has historical shrines marked which no longer exist. A path laid with large flagstones leads into the woods.

A wide pathway, ankle deep with dried leaves leads further into the dark woods. I have take paths like this often. Eventually, it comes to a clearing in the woods and the shrine buildings. As well as the main building there is a second one, probably a kagura den. There are no shimenawa nor komainu.

This must be a closed shrine, with the shintai, the object in the honden in which the kami resides when visiting, as well as any komainu etc being removed to another shrine nearby. A little over a hundred years ago this was the fate of half the shrines in the country as the government closed local shrines and expanded national ones. Here the situation would seem to be the result of the continued depopulation of rural Japan.

This was a sacred place for a community, probably for centuries. Does anyone come here anymore? Do the kami know?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Aoshima Shrine

Heading down the coast out of Miyazaki City on the 23rd day of my walk I came to Aoshima Shrine.

The small island is now connected by a short bridge, and much of the island itself is rock formed into parallel ridges like a washboard.

Leading from the main building, a tunnel of ema lead to a grove where you can toss small ceramic discs, representing plates I believe, at a target for good ;uck. Underneath the target is a small mountain of broken pottery.

The island is lush sub-tropical jungle, though some say it is tropical. The two main kami are Hikohohodemi, a grandfather of the mythical first emperor Jimmu, and his wife Toyotamahime. The myth about their story is told in a series of tableaux in the shrine museum, and that I will turn to next.....

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Some more Ema

Votive plaques, called ema in Japanese, were originally paintings of horses given to shrines with prayers. Nowadays they are mostly small wooden plaques and can be seen at many shrines and temples. By far the most common are pictures of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, but some shrines and temples have designs that are specific to their site. This first one is at the biggest shrine on Awaji Island, Izanagi Shrine. The ema shows Izanagi, along with his wife-sister Izanami, creating the island of Awaji, believed to be the first created.

At a temple in the mountains of Yamaguchi, these ema quite clearly are accompanied with prayers for ample breast milk and for good childbirth. I have seen a lot of these around the Sanyo region, the southern coast of western Honshu.

Rituals blessing your car are a staple income at many shrines and some temples. These ema are for traffic safety.

Increasingly popular are ema for finding a good love match. With Japans falling birthrate and growing numbers of singles,  the number of shrines that "specialize" in love matching prayers is on the increase.

Not sure what the meaning of the peach is.....

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Miyazaki Science Center

Located just a stones throw from the main station in Miyazaki City is the Miyazaki Science Center, easily visible by the rocket standing in front. I stopped in befoe heading down the coast on the 22nd day of my walk around Kyushu.

It is very much aimed at kids and is very colorful and noisy and somewhat resembled a games cnter.

The first floor is primarily about space and Japoan's space program which is based a little further south in Kagoshima.

There is also a planetarium and lots of interactive exhibits. There is virtually no information in English but kids would be sure to enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tombi, Japanese Kites (the birds)

Black Eared Kites are by far the most common raptor found in Japan and they can be found especially along rivers and coastlines.

Ive posted pics of them before many years ago, but those old posts have lost their photos so here are some new ones.

I saw this guy as I was walking down the coast of Cape Muroto in Kochi as I was walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Horaisan Chokyuji Temple

Chokyuji Temple is at the base of a small hill called Horaisan in Miyazaki City. I visited it on the 22nd day of my walk along the Kyushu 108 temple pilgrimage of which it is the 38th temple.

I also visited more recently on my 14th day of walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo `pilgrimage. It's the 12th temple of that pilgrimage. It was founded in the late 16th Century.

Horaisan, the small hill behind the temple once had a small castle on top of it. The main hall of the temple is modern and made of concrete with a large Kannon statue in front.

This temple also had a miniature 88 temple pilgrimage of statues in its grounds. As always I was please to find several Fudo Myo statues.

Friday, May 24, 2019

More Mascot Manholes

Though there was reputed to have been a culling of some of the more useless cute mascots that threaten to outnumber the humans in Japan, new one keep appearing and some make it onto manhole covers. These three were all found on my recent trips to Kyushu. This first one was in Omuta which is home to some of the coal mines that have become World Heritage sites.....

This one, found just outside Kumamoto Station celebrates the20th anniversary of Keroro, apparently a famous manga character, and the 70th anniversary of the introduction of theunderground drain and sewage system in Kumamoto.

This last one is thye town mascot for Kurino, a small town up in the mountains near Kirishima in Kagoshima.

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