Monday, January 18, 2021

Fudo Myo at Myo-on-ji Temple

 

Myo-on-ji is temple number 15 on the miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage in Sasaguri, Fukuoka.


Only a few hours into walking the pilgrimage, it is clear that there are an amazing number of statues of Fudo Myo. Myo-on-ji is an uninhabited temple, like most on this pilgrimage, though a little larger than many that just consist of a single, small "hall"


Soeof the Fudo are small, and some much larger. Some are stone, some wood, some bronze. Some are well-crafted by skilled artisans, some are cruder and made by "folk".


From here we leave the urban part of Sasaguri and start to head up a small mountain road. From now the distance between temple will be a little greater.....


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Former Kyusendo Forest Museum

 

Overhanging the cliffs of the Kumagawa River, and on the opposite side of the road to the Kyusendo cave, this unusual structure used to house the Kyusendo Forest Museum.


Built in 1985, domes are rarely found in Japan, and it looks almost Middle-Eastern. It was still open when I was in the area, but I did not venture inside.


Like so many monumental buildings in rural Japan I suspect it never even came close to making any money and its upkeep would have been substantial.


Still,  the architect, construction companies, and most importantly, the concrete companies will have made a handsome profit.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ryuzugataki Dragon Head Falls

 

Ryuzugattaki Waterfalls are among the 100 top waterfalls of japan and are located in the mountains directly south of Izumo City.


There are two falls, side by side, with the larger being 40 metres tall and the smaller just 30 meters. They are considered male and female.


The falls are reached by a very pleasant footpath along a river with the final approach being up a wooden staircase through a grove of huge, ancient trees that you would normally encounter nowadays approaching a shrine.


Also of interest is the cave in the cliff behind the falls that can be entered. Here you will find an altar to Fudo Myo.


In the autumn when the leaves are changing color is especially good for a visit.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Kyusendo the Biggest Cave in Kyushu

 

Kyusendo claims to be the biggest cave in Kyushu, being more than 4 kilometers in length. Only about 800 meters of it is open to the public.


It wasn't discovered until 1973. There is a small shrine and a Buddhist altar within the cave. It is also home to thousands of bats, though I didn't see any.


Though nowhere near as impressive as Akiyoshido, the biggest cavern in East Asia, it is more impressive than a few caves I have visited in Japan. Some people like caves, some don't.


It is located on the Kumagawa River in Kumamoto, about halfway between Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Kyusendo Suspension Bridge

 


The Kyusendo Suspension Bridge is a rather long, pedestrian brisge that crosses the Kumagawa River in Kumamoto, just below Kyusendo Cave.


The cave is on the main road from Hitoyoshi to Yatsushiro, but the railway station is on the opposite bank near a "vacation Village" of holiday cottages, etc.


There is a small road bridge a little further downstream so its possible to take a taxi from the station.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Kyusendo Vacation Bungalows Kumamoto Artpolis

 


Kyusendo is a cave located along the Kumagawa River, and on the opposite bank is a vacation village with numerous cabins and chalets. Two of them are quite unique and are part of Kumamoto Artpolis.


Kumamoto Artpolis is a prefecture-wide program that attempts to use innovative architecture as part of rural regeneration. There are about 100 projects in total and as I walk through the prefecture I have planned my route to try and visit as many of them as I can. A few days previously I had visited the Manga Museum in Yunomae.


The cube-shaped one is called Mokuban and is constructed out of huge blocks of wood and looks somewhat like a giant version of Jenga. I was able to see inside through the windows.


The second one is called Mokuban R2 and is also made out of wood, though thinner, vertical slats with gaps in between. the whole thing seems to be encased in a type of translucent resin. Photo of the interior look quite nice with lots of light, and at night when lit on the inside it looks cool from the exterior.



Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Shibatatehime Shrine

 

Located on the bank of the Kuma River, Shibatatehime shrine, as the suffix "hime" suggests, enshrined a maiden. As the sculpted pillar also suggests it is primarily a fertility shrine.


People pray here for fertility, safe childbirth, relief from ailments of the "lower body", and "womens problems". There is a story about the founding of the shrine that involves incest and murder.


A rich man and his daughter were traveling in the area and became exhausted. They had sex together, and next day were totally refreshed and invigorated. Later, when they again became exhausted, the daughter wanted sex again, but the father, feeling profound guilt it is said, murdered her. The shrine was established by local people to pray for the soul of the murdered daughter.


I suspect this modern version of the legend has been somewhat altered to become more palatable to late 20th century Japanese sensibilities. I seek out fertility shrines while wandering off the beaten track, and while they are far fewer than in pre-Meiji days, there are still plenty of them to be found.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

On Foot down the Kumagawa

 


On the 43rd day of my first walk around Kyushu I left Hitoyoshi and headed down the Kuma River towards Yatsushiro. The Kumagawa is classed as one of the three fastest rivers in Japan.


After Watari the valley nrrowed an there were several sections of whitewater. In season there is a lot of rafting here, but not this time of the year, late November.


As with other mountain river valleys there is a main road on one bank and a smaller, narrower road on the other. No guessing which I chose. Traffic consisted of the occasional postman on a moped, deliver truck, and a few kei trucks.


In many ways it remided me of my own river valley, the Gonokawa. I do prefer walking downhill than uphill......


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year of the Ox


 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Yasui Shrine & Sanada Yukimura

 


Yasui Shrine, a small shrine near Shitennoji Temple in Osaka, enshrines Sanda Yukimura, and is built on the spot where he died in 1615.


Sanada was known as "A hero who may appear once in a hundred years", "Crimson Demon of War", & "The Last Sengoku Hero", and made his name during Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea. He was never called Yukimura, as that name was given him in a modern novel, but, like much historical fiction, has become his most well-known name.


During the Battle of Tennoji in the waning days of the siege of Osaka Castle, he made a last ditch attempt against the vastly larger Tokugawa army that was trying to eliminate the last of the Toyotomi.


Exhausted and sensing defeat, according to the legend he sat on a stool, took off his helmet, and invited his enemies to cut off his head. The subject of movies, plays, and even a video game, the ema photographed below refer to a recent TV drama about him. By the look of it the TV drama probably used a boy band member to play him.