Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Hizen Komainu


Hizen was the name of the province that is now the prefectures of Saga and Nagasaki. The pair of komainu, guardian lion-dogs, in the first three photos are referred to as Hizen style.

They are found in Inanushi Shrine in Koitagata, Saga, close to Fumyozan Koya Temple.

They are almost abstract in design, and not at all sophisticated

All the other photos are komainu I encountered at other shrines on the same day as I walked from Saga to Takeo Onsen.

None of them are at all similar in style to the first pair, leading me to think the first pair are not really Hizen style, but rather just locally created by a less than high level mason.

Hizen certainly has its own style of Torii, shrine entrance gate, and to those I turn in my nest post.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Komyoji Temple 102 Kyushu pilgrimage


Not too long after leaving temple 61, Koyaji, I came to the second pilgrimage temple of the day, Komyoji.

Quite a small temple, and no one home. It was founded in the Edo period but destroyed in the ant-Buddhist movement of early Meiji, then re-established in 1893.

The honzon is a seated Yakushi, and other than the small Inari shrine on the grounds I know nothing about it,

Takeo Onsen, where I had a room booked, was less than an hour away.....

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Fumyozan Koyaji Temple 61 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Koya Temple near Takeo Onsen in Saga, is said to be named after Koyasan, the base of Shingon Buddhism, as the area is similar in appearance.

It is also said to have been founded by Kobo Daishi himself as he was wandering around north Kyushu after his visit to Tang China.

When I arrived in 2014 there was a construction site right inside the main gate. I believe the garden was being built or refurbished.

Unusually there was an exterior, stone statue of Enma, known as the King of Hell. Usually, he is found inside his own hall.

The honzon of the temple is a Thousand-armed Kannon, apparently said to be the largest in Kyushu, but unfortunately, I didnt enter any of the buildings.

There were several Fudo statues in the grounds, including this rather large one. There is also a Fudo hall with a Fudo statue that is known for answering prayers for financial prosperity.

It seems that the buildings only date back to 2006.

The temple is known for its large collection of rhododendron plants.

The garden is now known for Autumn foliage but there is now a 500 yen entry fee to the garden.

The previous post in the series was of Mizuko Jizo at this temple.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Mizuko Jizo at Fumyozan Koyaji Temple.


Though the adjective "unique" is extremely over-used when connected to anything Japanese, in one case it is actually apt. Small Buddhist statues of a child-like figure clad in a red bib and cap are found everywhere.

The red bib and cacan actually be found on many different types of statues, but the most common is Jizo, the bodhisattva known for the protection of children.

However, in the case of one specific type of Jizo, the Mizuko Jizo, the bibs and caps can become far more individualized.

Mizuko literally means "water baby" and referred historically to children stillborn, miscarried, or dying while still a baby. Mizuko Jizo and related ceremonies became very widespread in the mid 20th century when abortion became very common

Mizuko Jizo has spread beyond the borders of Japan, and within Japan some temples, like Mizuko Temle Monjuin in Sasaguri, have been established specifically for the practice.

All these were seen at temple 61 of the Kyushu pilgrimage near Takeo Onsen in Saga.

The previous post in the series was Saga to Takeo Onsen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Saga to Takeo Onsen Day 57 Kyushu Pilgrimage


A Walk Around Kyushu

Day 57 Saga to Takeo Onsen

Saturday February 15th 2014

Back in Saga to begin the next leg of my pilgrimage walk around Kyushu I am happy to find it warmer and sunnier than the Sanin Coast where I live. As I head west out of Saga I follow the rail line rather than the main road.  

To the north I see the mountains with a dusting of snow on the higher elevations. I soon leave the city behind and am among the paddies and fields. Many have the stubble of last years rice crop but there is also plenty of fresh, green winter wheat. I pass the temporary station of Saga Balloon, only operating, I guess, when one of the Hot Air Balloon festivals is taking place. I head towards a shrine marked on my map but when I get there find a crowd of people outside with banners and megaphone. Some sort of local election going on.

By now I reach the main road, a busy strip of asphalt lined with commercial properties. There are a lot of car dealerships, one sporting a Statue of Liberty. Lots of national chain electronics stores.

More than a few pachinko parlors. One named “Zero” with the slogan “it's so cool to enjoy life frankly”. Frankly I have no idea what that means. There are national chain family restaurants, Karaoke bars, a smattering of love hotels, and of course the ubiquitous “Konbini”. I avoid convenience stores if I have a choice, but increasingly the choice is not there. 100 yen fresh coffee and public toilets are what they excel at providing.

I stop in at shrines along the road. Many of them have the local style of Torii. Made of stone, the pillars are much wider than in the normal style and they taper quite dramatically. The cross piece is much thinner than normal. The overall effect seems to be to create the illusion of them being taller than they are.

A smile comes and my eyes widen as I spot an old Morris Minor rusting in a piece of waste land. Don't see many of those here, though you do see lots of the old Minis. A small detour off the main road takes me to the first pilgrimage temple of the day, Koya-ji.  

The previous post in the series was Saga Shrine.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Chibu Island to Nishinoshima Island


Chibu is the smallest and the southernmost of the 4 inhabited islands in the Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan off the north coast of Shimane. Along with Nishinoshima and Ama, the cluster of three smaller islands are known collectively as Dozen. The largest island, somewhat separate from Dozen, is Dogo.

The Oki Islands are volcanic in origin and are the remains of a sunken caldera. Their unique geological and natural and cultural features have led to them being registered as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The large car ferries that connect to the mainland also run between the islands, but more frequent, smaller, faster ferries carrying only passengers also operate, and these shots were taken from the one connecting Kurii on Chibu to Beppu on Nishinoshima.

Nishinoshima is rather convoluted in shape, and a large part of the journey travels through the channel separating Shishinoshima from Ama.

I really like the Okis, and this was my third visit. Excellent seafood, friendly locals, unique culture, great views, and fabulously clear seas, as can be seen in the first photo.

The previous post in the series is Red Cliff Sekiheki....

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Momijidani Teien Garden Wakayama


The Nishonomaru Garden at Wakayama castle is more commonly known by the name Momijidani Teien because of the large number of maples that grow there and that paint a vivid scene in Autumn.

It is not a very large garden, and one unusual feature is that it is built on the banks of the inner moat.

In the top picture you can see the small "floating" pavilion with the unusual covered bridge across the moat in the background.

Though not so large it is a very pleasant stroll-type garden with a couple of bridges, and obviously will be more dramatic in the autumn,  but much quieter in other seasons.

It was built for Tokugawa Yorinobu, a daimyo of the castle and the 10th son of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

There is a teahouse in the garden, Koshoan, where, for a fee, you can enjoy matcha and traditional sweet.

Entry to the garden is free.

The previous post in the series is about Wakayama Castle.