Saturday, July 20, 2019

Sugimura Kanamono Honten

Some architecture I find intriguing, some not. It is not always clear to me why. This building I found intriguing.

It may be because it was different from the other buildings around it. Or it may have been something instrinsic.

It's not particularly old, being built in 1932. When I visited it a few years ago it was a hardware store that was still in business, though it seems to have closed now. It is located in Aburatsu, an old port town in Nichinan, Miyazaki.

I was there on the 24th day of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage, visiting a temple in the town.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Saidaiji Kannon-in

Saidaiji Kannon-in is a large historic temple to the East of Okayama City. It is the first temple on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, though I visited it on the second day of my walk along that pilgrimage as temple 2 is further East and it made logical sense.

When I visited it was very quiet, which it is for most of the year, but in late February it is filled with thousands  and thousands of near-naked men taking part in the famous Hadaka Festival, commonly known as the Naked Man Festival.

For more details about the festival and also about the legend associated with the temples founding, please see a piece I wrote on another site.

Some of the buildings, like the 17th Century Pagoda, and some of the statuary, like the large Kannon, are quite interesting, and the street leading to the temple from the nearest train station has a few old buildings, but outside of February things here are pretty quiet.....

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Yowara Shrine

In the mountains of Nichinan, Miyazaki, about 25 kilometers southwest of Udo Jingu, is the rather grand and elaborate shrine of Yowara Jinja.

Brightly painted in vermillion, with an impressive two storey gate that still houses 2 Buddhist Nio guardians, and an equally impressive Bell Tower, the shrine was founded in 1658 by a local man whose lover insisted on its construction.

It is, in essence, a branch of Udo Jingu and enshrines the same 6 main kami as Udo Jingu, Amaterasu, Ninigi, Hoori, etc.

I believe the architectural style is called Gongen Zukuri, gongen being Buddhist manifestations, and the style of architecture incorprates a shared roof over the worship hall and honden. Udo Jingu was itself a Buddhist institution until 1868, and many, many shrines still have Buddhist architecture and features.

Yowara Shrine is not well visitedm though it is now the tutelary shrine for the area so gets lots of visitirs at the New Year.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Odds & Sods, Bits & Pieces

The bulk of my posts from more than a couple of years ago no longer have photos as the site where I stored them has gone. Some of the older posts still get visited, so I am trying to replace the photos. Obviously this takes time, but if any of you particularly want me to do this for certain posts please let me know in the comments below.

Three posts that I have updated the photos to are:- one on Hidden Crosses, used by the hidden Christians during the Edo Period. The second is on Genbu Shrine in Kyoto. The third is from Hasso Daishi, a small temple along the route of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

I'm still publishing lots of guides and such over at, and a few you might be interested in are.......

The Tezen Museum ..... lots of mingei and crafts from the Izumo area...

Historic Preservation Districts ..... guide to many of the Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings....

Yuasa is one of thse districts that is also the reputed origin of Soy Sauce

Shitenno are the "Four Heavenly Kings".... martial deities that protect Buddhism

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Taketomi Island Water Buffalo

At several places around the Okinawan Islands you can ride in a cart drawn by Water Buffalo, but the most well known is I think the island of Taketomi.

The water buffalo was domesticated about 5,000 years ago in India and about 4,000 years ago in southern China, which is probably where Okinawa got them from.

Taketomi Island is quite small with just a few hundred inhabitants living in the one village of Taeketomi, a Histroical Preservation District of Historic Buildings with traditional streets of sand lined with stone walls.

Almost every house has a red tile roof, but that is a modern phenomenon that started in 1905 because traditionally commoners were not allowed tile roofs, rather they were thatched.

I posted earlier some Shisa from Taketomi.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Nakiri Shrine. Another Cave Shrine

About a 15 minute walk along a path through the woods from Udo Jingu is a small cave with Nakiri Shrine within it.

It is not as impressive as he cave at Udo Jingu, but it is closer to the sea and you are likely to be the only visitor, and so is more atmospheric and even dramatic.

Next to the small shrine is a statue of Fudo Myo. In this case a Namikiro Fudo, a "wave-cutting" Fudo Myo who protects seafarers. In 1868 the cave stopped being a home to a Buddhist deity and became the "shinto" Nakiri Shrine. Can't find any info on which kami they enshrined here, thoufg there is a carving of a fish hanging from the shrine.

This is also what happened at Udo Uingu, which was established as, and existed as for more than a millenia, a Buddhist site, until 1868.

It is well worth the walk from Udo Jingu

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kunisaki Autumn Walk Day 3

It had taken me two days to walk across the Kunisaki Peninsula from west to east. For this third day my route would be south and then southwest down the coastline. There were a lot of shrines, many of them with banners flying indicating matsuri time..... it was November and the rice had been harvested..

At one shrine a handful of older men and a priest were preparing for some ceremony. Usually just  a small group of men, usual village elders, attend these. I have been several times to my local shrine. It is generally agreed it is not for women, though I have never received a satisfactory answer why.

One shrine, Shiraishi, was among the sand dunes. Shiraishi means white stone and refers to a stone pulled up from the sea by a fisherman. It is said the stone was a dragons head, and so the shrine enshrines Ryujin, the undersea Dragon King. People pray here for rain during droughts.

There were a lot of smaller Ebisu Shrines, either in the grounds of bigger shrines, or more often, there own little roadside shrines. All the little villages along this stretch of coast had fishing boats hence Ebisu.

After passing Oita Airport I arrived in the castle town of Kitsuki where I had a room for the night.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The cave at Udo Jingu

The shrine, or rather shrines, at Udo Jingu are inside a cave in the cliff overlooking the sea. The main kami is named Ugayafukieazu, though there are variations on the name and its spellings. In the mythology, he was the father of Jimmu, the first emperor.

In the legend his mother, Toyotamahime constructed a birth hut here made out of cormorant feathers. and told her husband Hoori, sometimes known as Hohodemi or Yamasachihiko, not to look while she was giving birth as she would revert to her non-human form as the daughter of Ryujin, the undersea Dragon King.

He peeked and then freaked out at her appearance and she was so ashamed that she left the child and ran away. For some reason the shrine is considered lucky for newly-weds.

Deeper in the cave , behind the main shrine, are numerous smaller shrines that enshrine Yamasachihiko, Toyotamahime, Ninigi, Amaterasu, Jimmu, etc.

In the cave roof are rocks shaped like breasts. It is said that as a baby Jimmu suckled from them. The shrine sells a kind of candy made from the water that drips down the rocks.

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.

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