Saturday, December 9, 2023

From Orekiji Temple to Kakaji


Mount Shiritsuki, 587 meters, is clearly visible as I leave Oreki Temple and carry on up the road.

For a couple of hours, the road is forest and mountain with no habitations of any kind.

I'm on the second day of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Pilgrimage, which for this first part also follows the old yamabushi Kunisaki pilgrimage now followable along the Kunisaki Hanto Minemichi Long Trail.

Every now and then the view opens up to the typical Kunisaki Peninsula landscape of cliffs and spires of rock, the kind of place that attracted yamabushi.

Eventually the road lead down past some mountain farms and eventually reached the main road running along the Takeda River. The next temple is not far upstream but that will be where I start on the next leg as I am heading home now.

The road runs north towards the coast where I will take the ferry across to Honshu.

Along the way I stop in briefly at some local shrines, a Wakamiya Shrine, a Yasaka Shrine, and a Hie Shrine, none with any interesting attributes, and none part of the syncretic shinto-buddhist Rokumanzan culture that is so intriguing in this area.

The largest settlement on the coast is Kakaji and there is a big shrine here for me to explore, but that will be the next post.

The previous post in this series was Oreki Temple.

It is the first week of  May and so the carp streamers are up......

Friday, December 8, 2023

Nagaura Sunrise


Friday, March 7th, 2014, day 65 of my walk around Kyushu and a wonderful sunrise.

I spent the night at a minshuku right on the water's edge in Nagaura on an inlet of Omura Bay.

I once lived in a place where I could see the sunrise and sunset every day, but for the past twenty-some years I have lived in a narrow valley so normally see neither...

So please excuse my indulgence...

The previous post was on the shrines I had visited the previous day

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Tameshigiri Testing a New Samurai Sword


Tameshigiri is the art of testing a new sword. In the good old days this would often be done using the body of an executed criminal, but sometimes on a live criminal.

When this no longer became practical a substitute was discovered that mimicked the properties of human bodies. Wet goza, the reed mats that cover tatami flooring, when wrapped around bamboo, was close to a human limb.

Nowadays Tameshigiri is a kind of an exhibition martial art, but the goza is not wet and is not wrapped around bamboo.

There are a variety of different cuts and arrangements in Tamegishiri. One of the more difficult is called Tsubamegaeshi. A vertical roll of goza is first cut with a 45 degree downward cut from left to right. then followed by an upward 45 degree cut from right to left below the first cut. Then before the cut piece can fall it is cut in half horizontally from left to right, and a final cut on the remaining standing piece of roll is cut horizontally from right to left. All in the blink of an eye. see Photo 3

This video and these photos were taken at a demonstration of Tamegishiri at the Okuizumo Tatara and Sword Museum and the sword master is Mr. Yoshihara.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Shrines along the way on Day 64


Early March, 2014, and on day 64 of my walk around Kyushu I walked from Nagasaki, up the coast of Omura Bay, to Nagaura, stopping in, as usual, to as many shrines as I passed.

In Togitsu I stopped in at a branch shrine of Yutoku Inari, and  not too long after I spied the succession of red torii on a hillside that led to a small roadside Inari Shrine.

A little further, still in Togitsu, I visited a branch of  Kumano Shrine. Enshrining Susano, Hayatamano, and Kotoshironushi.

There was not anything particularly interesting or unusual, though I did notice a sumo ring.

Further on I climbed up the steps to a branch of Katori Shrine. The shrine history has it being established in 1637, but at that time it was dedicated to Bishamonten, one of the Shitenno, four heavenly kings, of Buddhism. It became a Katori shrine in 1868.

Katori shrines enshrine Futsunushi, mythical ancestor of the Mononobe clan and linked to swords and warriors. Bishamonten was also lonked to warriors and so tye switch was kind of easy.

It also featured a small sumo ring in the grounds. I have noticed that only a few areas of Japan tend to have sumo rings in their grounds.

My final stop is marked as a shrine on the maps, has a torii and shimenawa, but enshrines Yakushi, the Medicine Buddha, and also has a statue of Amida in the grounds. Called Rurikoden, not sure why its identity is so confused, though that is not as unusual as many think. Whether something is a shrine or a temple is a somewhat arbitrary distinction made by politicians.

The previous post in the series was on Nagaura, the small fishing harbour where I spent the night.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Ishiteji Temple Part 4


This is the last of four posts on the colorful and chaotic Ishiteji Temple in Matsuyama, Ehime.

The first post looked at the entrance and main part of the temple. The second looked at the tunnel leading to the okunoin, the "inner temple".

The third looked at the tunnel coming back from the Okunoin, and this post looks at some of the other halls and the area around the Treasure Hall.

The honzon of Ishiteji is a Yakushi Nyorai, a so-called Medicine Buddha, but there were numerous halls and altars to a variety of Kannons.

There were also a few of the kind of wooden carvings that populated the tunnels and okunoin.

While paintings can be seen at some temples, there seemed to be a lot more here...

The Treasure Hall is open as a museum with an entrance fee and is worth a visit.

It is located in a quieter part of the temple with some vegetation and much fewer people.

There are several walls with relief carving done in Indian style.....

Though a major temple on the 88 temple Shikoku Pilgrimage, Ishiteji does not have a Shukubo, paid temple lodgings, though when I visited ten years ago there was a tsuyado, a free place to stay for walking pilgrims, but I have no idea if that still exists.

For information on the temple's history and about the various historical buildings, see Part 1.

For those with an interest in actual history, rather than legend, I did read that it is believed Ishiteji was te center of a local yamabushi pilgrimage that later became joined up with several others and eventually became the 88 temple pilgrimage of later..

The previous post in this series was Ishiteji Temple Part 3. The previous temple on the pilgrimage was temple 50, Hanta-ji.

Friday, December 1, 2023



By mid afternoon I reached my destination for the day, a fishermans minshuku on the waterfront of Kitagami Bay, itself an inlet of Omura Bay.

I was not quite halfway between Nagasaki and Sasebo and could have carried on for a few more hours walking, but I had a room booked for the night. I was the only guest, I guess early March is not prime fishing season.

Unusually, the harbour's little shrine was just offshore.....

There were only very small boats operating out of this little harbour, and i have no idea what bthey would have fished for...

Forced to idly sit on the dock of the bay and watch the sun slowly set....

The previous post was on the walk from Togitsu to Nagaura