Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Kannon at Myo-On-Ji Temple


Myo-On-ji is temple number 15 on the Sasaguri Pilgrimage in Fukuoka. If you follow the suggested route it is the 11th temple you visit since starting, just a few hours earlier. It is the biggest temple so far, though there are no grand buildings, rather a large number of smaller "halls", and like all temples on the pilgrimage, a huge number of statues.

Previously I posted some of the Fudo Myo statues at Myo-onji, and then later an even larger selection with more detail about the deity Fudo. This time I will post what I believe are all photos of Kannon, and offer a few details about her.

Known as Kanzeon Bosatsu in Japan, and commonly referred to as the Goddess of Mercy in  English, Kannon began, as did many Buddhist deities, in India, where he is known as Avalokiteshvara, and where he is almost always considered to be a male deity, also in Tibet and SE Asia. In China he became mixed with a female Daoist deity and so in China, Korea, and Japan is considered female. 

Kannon comes in many forms, the most iconic perhaps being the 1,000-armed Kannon, though actually not many of the statues actually have a full 1,000 arms. 11-faced Kannon is fairly common, as is Jibo Kannon, usually depicted wearing white robes and holding a baby.

Bokefuji Kannon is an increasingly popular form of Kannon as she protects against senility and dementia and also increasingly popular is Mizuko Kannon, like Mizuko Jizo, prayed to for the souls of deceased babies and abortions. Kannon has many motherly qualities, and during the pre-modern period when Christianity was outlawed statues of Kannon were used as a substitute for Maria.

There are some giant-sized statues of Kannon in Jaan that are so big you can climb up inside to viewing platforms. There are also numerous pilgrimages to Kannon, usually consisting of 33 temples. I have walked the Izumo Kannon Pilgrimage, the Iwami Kannon Mandala Pilgrimage, The Chugoku Kannin Pilgrimage that covers Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shiman, and Tottori, and the oldest pilgrimage route in Japan the Saigoku Pilgrimage in Kansai.

Clicking any of the pilgrimage links above will take you to a listing, in chronoloical reverse order, of posts on those pilgrimages. The only one that i have completely posted is the Izumo, all the others I am only as far as the frst few days in posting.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Kongoji Temple 58 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


My last stop on day49 of my first walk around Kyushu was Kongoji. temple number 58 on the Kyushu Pilgriage, which I have recently read claims to be the longest pilgrimage in Japan.

After the somewhat bizarre architecture of the previous temple, Naritasan Taishoji, it was somewhat of a relief to see a failr standard, urban temple, located in "downtown" Arao.

I could find no date for the temple, though it belongs to the Koyasan Shingon sect, and the honzon is a Dainichi Nyorai.

On the approach to the temple there are 88 memorial stones set in the grounds, and underneath each one is small amount of dirt collected at each of the 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. They ahve also done the same with then 33 temples of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

I Didn't venture inside, but apparentky they have some kind of "Peace Flame" that was lit with fames from a temple in China and a temple in India.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dragons and Fudo at Ariake naritasan Taishoji


There wasn't a lot of statuary, nor greenery, at Taishoji, but I ws taken by the double dragons at the temizuya.

Fudo Myo is the hinzon of the temple, but the one in the main hall is hidden. However, outside were two statues, the second seeming quite feminine to my eye.

Finally a look at the unusual architecture of the triangular main hall.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Ariake Naritasan Taishoji Temple 101 Kyushu Pilgrimage


As I approached the 101st temple of the Kyushu pilgrimage I was not sure I was at the right place as it really didn(t look like a temple at all. To my untrained eye it looked quite Chinese and possible SE Asian in design. The whole place, except for a small Daishi-do, was made out of concrete, which is actually not that unusual.

It's a branch of the famous Naritasan temple up in Chiba and like the mother temple, Fudo Myo is the honzon. I&s not a very old temple, but seems to be very popular judging by the size of the car park.

In the car park was a "chapel" devoted to blessings for vehicles and drivers, which leads me to believe a focus of the temple, and a reason for its popularity, is on Genze Riyaku, which translates roughy as "this-worldly benefits".

That is to say a focus on services for attracting health, wealth, success, and protection against any kind of misfortune.. Though Buddhism in Japan is said to be funerary-based, and "shinto" is said to be nature based, both religions focus a lot on genze riyaku.

Visiting was a somewhat strange experience.

The main hall of the temple is triangular in shape, the first time I can ever recollect seeing such a shape in temple buildings.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Greenland Amusement Park


For several hours while heading for the next temple on the pilgrimage, I seemed to be heading directly for some kind of multi-colored tower. Turns out the temple is adjacent to a huge amusement park.

The "tower" I was seeing was in fact a huge Ferris wheel seen edge-on. At 105 meters tall its not the tallest in Japan, but close. Greenland Amusement Park claims ro be the biggest amusement park in West Japan, but I think that must exclude kansai.

It has numerous rollercoasters including one of the longest in Japan. I think the name should probably be Green Land, ratherb than the name of the north atlantic island. There seems to be no theme to the park though a couple of attractions relate to Egypt.

It is a full resort with a golf course for the grown-ups and a large hotel complex. Its a bit out of the way with little public transport and is located in the foothills near Arao, Kumamoto.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Nobara Hachimangu


The Hachiman shrine in Nobara near Arao in Kumamoto is a fairly typical local shrine, though the entrnce gate is larger than most. The banners suggest that a matsuri has recently, or will soon, be held.

I previously posted about the two pairs of komainu I found here, There was a pretty big tree in the grounds, but otherwise not much else to see. However, I read that there are several small burial mounds within the grounds.

Since arriving in Japan I have read continually that "shinto" considers death very taboo and will have nothing to do with it, leaving such things to the Buddhists to deal with, however, in Izumo, here in Kyushu, and also on Shikoku I have come across shrines built on top of or in close proximity to ancient burial mounds/

The shrine was founded about 1,000 years ago at the end of the Heian Period. Hachiman shrines are the most common village shrines in Japan. The Hachiman cult was originally based in northern Kyushu, and did spread in Kyushu in ancient times.

However, it was when Hachiman was taken up to Nara to protect the new "national" temple of Todaiji, that it began to spread more widely. When an oracle proclaimed that the true identity of Hachiman was in fact Emperor Ojin, the cult became much more powerful.

Some hachoman shrines claim to be derived from the original in Usa, Oita, but apparently two thirds of Hachiman shrines in Japan claim to be derived from Iwashimizu Shrine south of Kyoto and not directly from Usa.Not all Hachimans are equal it seems. There is no mention of the origin of this particular Hachiman shrine, though I do know of Hachiman shrines in Kyushu that went all the way up to Iwashimizu to bring back the "divided spirit" from that shrine rather than get it from the much closer Usa hachman.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins


Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins is the title of this installation by the art collective Teamlab at Mifuneyama in Saga, Kyushu.

Mifuneyama is a park and hotel near Takeo Onsen, and each year Teamlab put on a series of installations, some indoors, but mostly outdoors throughout the patk.

The interior pieces can be viewed by visitors during the daytime, but most people will visit in the evening.

The installations mostly consist of computer controlled lights, sounds, and projections. While the technology is certainly state-of-the-art I do find Teamlabs stuff to be somewhat retro and 70's-ish

The original bath house for the hotel is no longer operational, but for the artwork they fill the pools up with water.

I visited in the winter of 2019 while walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, but I read today that the exhibition, called A Forest Where Gods Live: Ruins & Heritage, is open again from now until November.

I have posted earlier about another Teamlab installation I saw in Tokushima called Luminous River.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Komainu at Nobarahachimangu


Nobarahachimangu was a relatively small shrine on the outskirts of Arao that I stopped in at on day 49 of my first Kyushu walk.

It had a relatively large entrance gate that housed two rather nice wooden komainu.

Along the approachway were also two stone komainu, the female of  the pair was depicted with a pup.

I'll show pics of the shrine itself next....

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple


The pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple in Tamana, Kumamoto, is one of only two 5-storey pagodas in Kyushu made exclusively out of wood.

It stands 35 meters high and was completed in 1997 after ten yars of construction.

It is made out of Aomori Hiba, a kind of cypress, and is favored for shrine and pagoda construction because of its resistance to insects and humidity.

The pagoda is primarily a Chinese piece of architecture, but in Japan it was modified by having the roofs extend out much further to stop the excessive rainfall of Japan from undermining the foundations.