Sunday, January 23, 2022

Mikka Ebisu Shrine


Mikka Ebisu is one of the shrines within the grounds of the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Hakata.

It's built on an island in a large pond.

Mikka means "third day" and refers to January 3rd, 1945, when the shrine was founded.

According to the story, a local man found a small wooden box containing a small Ebisu statue floating in the river. He took it home and consequently had a lot of good luck so decided it was due to the Ebisu statue and wanted to share the statue with others, so founded the shrine.

Being one of the shichifukujin, the seven lucky gods, the shrine is very popular, especially on the 3rd of january each year.

The gate, pictured below, dates back to the Edo period and leads into the Sumiyoshi Shrine and also to the Rakusuien Garden.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Day 14 on the Ohenro Trail Winds Down

Ohenro Trail Day 14

Ohenro Trail.

The famous Shikoku Pilgrimage, known as Ohenro, was the first formal pilgrimage I walked. Hard to believe it is now over ten years ago. In early October 2011 I was on the 14th day of walking

These are a few of the snapshots I took towards the end of the day. Most of the day had been taken up with the climb to Konomine-ji, the 27th temple of the pilgrimage, and Konomineji Shrine nearby. Coming up the coast I stopped in at Cape Oyama

Tosa, the former name of Kochi, was one of the instigators of the Meiji Restoration, and there were statues of some of the major figures from Tosa associated with it. This is Ryo Narasaki, wife of the famous Ryoma Sakamoto.

For a section the path followed a cycle trail through the pines planted along the beach.

Like most areas of Japan, there were Kappa legends around here.....

As sunset approached I reached my destination for the night, the Haginori zenkonyado. Zenkonyados are free lodgings for walking pilgrims provided by individuals rather than temples. Hagimori-san is well known among walking pilgrims as a source of up-to-date information on free lodgings on the route. His little cabins are located under the elevated railway near Nishibun Station. Two other pilgrims stayed that night..... not a busy time on the route...

Monday, January 17, 2022

Christmas Morning at a Tenmangu Shrine


Christmas Day, 2013, was the 53rd day of my walk around Kyushu on the Kyushu Pilgrimage.

I took an early morning train up the Chikugo River valley towards Hita to pick up the pilgrimage from where I had stopped the day before.

My first stop was a small Tenmangu Shrine. I'm not sure exactly which Tenmangu shrine it was as there are dozens of them in the area.

Dazaifu Tenmangu is a little to the north and it is the temple where Sugawara Michizane, deified as Tenjin, was buried, and so the cult spread throughout the region.

This particular shrine had been recently rebuilt and was sporting a fresh coat of vermillion paint.

There were also quite a few pairs of komainu lining the approach.

Best of all was that because of the strong, low, midwinter sun, the "golden hour" was still there several hours after dawn.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Rakusuien Garden Hakata


Rakusuien is a small garden in downtown Hakata, located next to the Sumiyoshi Shrine.

The garden and house were built in 1906 as a second residence for a wealthy businessman.

The property is surrounded by a Hakatabei wall, that has rooftiles and other recycled building materials embedded in it.

After the war it operated as a ryokan, but in 1996 it was bought by the city and opened to the public as a garden.

A path encircles a large pond and crosses it via a small bridge, and the garden includes a small waterfall.

The rooms of the former villa that look out over the garden are open and visitirs can enjoy a cup of green tea while viewing the garden.

I visited in early December and the autumn colors were still on display.

Like most Japanese gardens, Rakusuien is planted with a variety of trees and including Cherry, so has plenty of seasonal variation.

As well as the main house, there is also a small, rustic, traditional tea room that I will post about soon.

It is open every day from 9 to 5 except Tuesdays. Entry is a mere 100 yen, with matcha and seasonal sweet available for 500 yen.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Mishima Shrine & Misosogi Shrine


I was excited to start day 2 of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Myoo pilgrimage. A good chunk of the days walking would be along mountain trails. After waking early at my stopover at Nameshi Dam, I walked across the dam itself and headed into the woods.

The first seven temples of the pilgrimage are all located in the Kunisaki Penisula, but to visit them I decided to walk the Kunisakihanto Minemichi Long Trail, a route that closely follows the old yamabushi pilgrimage route that circumnavigates the peninsula. This was my third visit to Kunisaki and I would be revisiting some sites but visiting many more for the first time.

Not far into the forest I come upon the first stop, a shrine set against a cliff with the honden and a secondary shrine both under a rock overhang. The map says this is Mishima Shrine, though there is no information about it.

I am very fond of shrines that cannot be accessed by motor vehicle. From here an ancient road leads up a little higher before crossing over a pass and dropping into the next valley.

The Kunisaki Peninsular is a roughly circular volcanic cone, and from the central high point a series of 28 valleys raditae out. What this means is that to walk around the peninsula involves an awful lot of ups and downs.

As I approach a qiute large temple I first pass by a substantial shrine. My map says this is Misosogi Shrine, but another says it is Choanji Rokusho Shrine. Choanji is the temple nearby connected to this shrine, and Rokusho is the name of several shrines in the area, related I am fairly sure, to  Rokugo Manzan, the Tendai- Hachiman syncretic cult that formed the areas unique religious landscape.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Suitengu Shrine Kurume


Suitengu Shrine in Kurume is the head shrine of all Suitengu shrines in Japan. It was founded in the 13th Century and moved from various sites until its current location on the bank of the Chikugo River in Kurume.

It felt like a "national", political shrine and researching it has confirmed my feeling.

Suiten is a water deity, originally Varuna, a Hindu deity, and was imported into Japan with Buddhism. In 1868 all the deities in shrines that had a Buddhist origin, and there were very many, were replaced with Japanese kami that usually had imperial connections. All the very popular deities, Inari, Konpira, Myoken, Ebisu, etc were changed to imperially-connected kami.

Now enshrined here are Amenominakanushi, the kami who created the universe and who  is enshrined in hundreds of shrines but only since 1868, Next is Antoku, the child emperor who drowned at the Battle of Dannoura. Prior to 1868 emperors who not enshrined in "shinto" shrines. Emperors who died violently, like Antoku, were enshrined in Buddhist temples, many of which were "converted " to shrines after 1868. Also enshrined are Taira no Tokiko. wife of the famous Taira Kiyomori, and their daughter, Taira no Tokuko, the mother of Antoku.

A large part of the shrine is now devoted to Yasuomi Maki. He was a priest at the shrine, but also a samurai involved in the early stages of the civil wars that led to the Meiji Restoration. Pictured above is the Maki Shrine in the grounds.

In 1862 he was involved in an anti-government "disturbance" in Fushimi in Kyoto and was briefly held under house-arrest. Pictured above is a replica in the shrine grounds of the house he was held in.

Also known as Maki Izumi, in 1864 he took part in fighting in what is known as the Kinmon Incident when pro-imperial forces attempted to take control of the imperial palace in Kyoto. After suffering defeat Maki took his troops to Tennozan and committed suicide.

The grounds of the shrine are quite large and pleasant, with lots of trees, but like many of what I would call the political shrines, it is quite sombre and austere and not much sign of local peoples involvement.

The one exception is the pair of Hizen komainu, which are quite distinctive, and like many statues are used for prayers for healing by rubbing the part of the statues that corresponds to the su\ickness.