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.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Swordplay at Togami Shrine


After dropping down from the mountains to the river valley that would lead to my hotel for the night in Hayato City, I spied a big red torii across the rice paddies and headed over to investigate. The torii had a chrysanthemum emblem indicating a connection to the imperial clan.


Togami Shrine was established in the early 8th Century after the Yamato sent a 10,000 strong army to subdue the Hayato people who were resisting the Yamato. Following the war the Yamato removed many Hayato to other parts of Japan and moved  non-Yamato settlers into Hayato territory.


While at the shrine some local people were obviously practising some kind of sword-based martial art, though not having much interest in martial arts, nor in swords and samurai and such, I have no idea what the style/art is.



What is obvious is that it was about fighting against multiple opponents. maybe it is a variation on kendo. If anyone knows please let me know,

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tachikue Gorge Fudo Myo


Tachikue Gorge in the mountains south of Izumo City is a scenic spot with cliffs and strange rock formations.


Just the kind of place Yamabushi used to like so it's not surprising that it was a center for Shugendo.


There are hundreds of small statues in ledges and at the base of rock faces including many of the 500 rakan or arhats.


There were half a dozen small Fudo Myo statues as well.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Sasaguri Pilgrimage Temples 37 & 69


Temple 37 of the Sasaguri Pilgrimage was just 20 meters from the previous temple, number 21, Takada Kokuzo-do. Takada Amida-do looked like a shed but inside was a small shrine with a bark roof. This was originally in the grounds of the local Tenjin Shrine. It houses a small statue of Amida Nyorai. Outside was a small structure with a group of stone statues.


The next temple was number 69, Takada Kannon-do. This was the 4th temple we visited on the pilgrimage and by now we had walked almost a whole kilometer.


Like the previous three temples there were numerous statues outside the small hall, imcluding this Fudo Myo.


The main statue was a Kannon. As should be obvious, the temples are not numbered sequentially, and we started from the most common starting point, Sasaguri Station, rather than from temple 1. For those who want to try a pilgrimage the Sasaguri one I would very highly recommend
.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Rural Love Hotels


After spending the night near Kirishima Jingu I headed south on my 28th day along the Kyushu Pilgrimage. Pretty much all downhill, my favorite kind of walk, late morning I passed through an area with quite a lot of small love hotels clustered together.


The top photo is a former love hotel that now advertises itself as a lodge. You can tell it's not a love hotel because there are no curtains to hide the vehicle and its number plate, a standard feature that helps protect guests identity. The vast majority of these love hotels are of the cabin / chalet type.


Some of them, like the one pictured above, have been abandoned.


All the cabins were unlocked so I peeked inside a few..... fairly rudimentary and completely lacking in the luxury and exoticism associated with urban love hotels//// though this room did have the mirrors.


A few of them looked a little less run-down with a fresh lick of paint.....

Monday, September 30, 2019

Kirishima Jingu


Kirishima Jingu is a large Shinto shrine on the lower slopes of the Kirishima Mountains, a group of volcanoes in northern Kagoshima.


The current buildings date back to 1715, though the shrine used to be located higher up in the mountains where it had been destroyed by volcanic activity multiple times.


The main kami enshrined here is Ninigi, the grandson of the "sun goddess"Amaterasu and ancestor of Jimmu, the mythical first emperor. The shrine was originally located at the foot of nearby Mount Takachiho, according to the ancient myths the site where Noinigi and his heavenly entourage descended.


There is another Takachiho, much further north in the mountains of Miyazaki, that is now considered to be the site where Ninigi descended. When the Meiji government decided that it was a great shock to the people of Sastsuma, present day Kagoshima, home of the "other" Takachiho.


National myths in Japan largely came about by government decree in the late 19th Century. Prior to that the imperial family had a set of myths, but so did the major clans of ancient Japan as well as the myriad tribes that inhabited the Japanese isles. Basically the imperial families versions of the myths are the ones now touted as national.

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