Saturday, September 24, 2022

To the First Bend in the River


After leaving Gotsu Honmachi I pass by the remains of the former Honmachi train station on the now defunct rail line that followed the river upstream to Hiroshima. It was just a narrow concrete platform with a crude shelter, and now the vegetation has almost completely enveloped it.

A little further and I come to the first of several concreted slopes, the consequence of landslides. Twice in the past decade the train line was closed down because of a landslide in roughly this spot. Each time it took more than a year to get it open again. Obviously, no-one of importance uses the train line otherwise it would have been fixed sharpish methinks.

This side of the river is the least inhabited, with the main road running along the opposite bank for most of the way upriver.

It is my intention to stay on this bank all the way to the source of the river and then come back downstream on the other bank.

I have walked much of the river before, and I am hoping to see what, if any, difference the closing of the railway has had, and also what changes the rapid depopulation of the area has caused.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Gesshoji Temple Matsudaira Tombs


Gesshoji Temple lies to the west of Matsue Castle and was used by the ruling Matsudaira clan as their funerary temple where tombs of succeeding daimyo were built

Consequently, the grounds are rather spacious, and not that well visited. 

The tomb of each daimyo has its own gate and there are plenty of stone lanterns given by vassals.

The gardens have a lot of hydrangeas, so in June and July it sees more visitors.

There are also Irises, cherry blossoms, and of course autumn foliage. There is a treasure hall with tea utensils and other artifacts from the clan, and a fine garden which I will cover in a later post.

Some of the gates to the tombs have some nice carvings, one in particular, the tomb of the 6th lord,  has a fine pair of carvings.

Thanks to Lafcadio Hearn, who lived nearby for less than a year, the most famous thing in the grounds is the giant stone turtle. He told how the turtle would wander around the area at night so the local residents placed the huge slab of stone on its back to prevent it....

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Myooin Temple 2 Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage


Myooin is the second temple on the Shikoku 36 temple Fudo Myo pilgrimage and I reached it at the end of my second day of walking.

The first temple had been Taisanji, and for these first 2 days I had been following almost the same route as the famous 88 temple pilgrimage, however after visiting Horinji my route carried on up the Yoshino River and several kind people stopped their cars and told me I was going the wrong way..... which of course i was not.

Myoonji is not a particularly impressive temple though it is said to have been founded in the mid 9th century. Later it was patronized by the Hosokawa clan and prospered. In the great Yoshino River flood of 1544 the temple was completely destroyed and its statues were found downstream.

It was rebuilt in 1618 and was responsible for a dozen sub-temples in the area. It is said the daimyo would sometimes stay here on hunting trips. The honzon is known as Nezumi Fudo, "mouse fudo" as the amulet is said to keep mice from damaging crops. The main hall was rebuilt in 1989 at the founding of the Shikoku Fudo pilgrimage.

One of 6he reasons behind the number 36 associated with Fudo is that he is said to have 36 doji, young children who served as his attendant and acolytes. With the founding of the pilgrimage each temple received a statue of a different doji.

This is the one at Myoonji,  Seitaka Doji, which is one of the pair of doji that are commonly seen in a triad with Fudo.

I visited in mid-December, and the fallen leaves on the bushes were striking....

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Fukutomi Residence in Izushi part 2


This is a continuation of yesterday's post on the interiors of the former Fukutomi residence in Izushi that is open to the public as the Izushi History Museum.

Located in the preservation district of this old castle town, its not directly in the main tourist street so actually gets few visitors.

I don't often do multiple posts on a single site, but I was really taken by this place and took a lot of photos.

There was lots of traditional interiors with plenty of artwork including hanging scrolls and folding screens.

There is a largish garden in the middle of the buildings, and several small ones viewable from some of the tatami rooms.

Several of the storehouses at the rear of the property are the museum part with lots of samurai armor, weapons, etc. I found it much more appealing than the "Samurai House" near the centre of town.

If you are interested more in Izushi then I suggest the castle, the old town, the shopfronts etc. and I still have a bunch more posts to come....

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Fukutomi Residence in Izushi part 1


The Fukutomi were a wealthy merchant family in the castle town of Izushi who made their money from silk.

Izushi is a small town in northern Hyogo that is unfortunate, in my humble opinion, to be saddled with the nickname "Little Kyoto".

The town has a preservation district of historic buildings and the former Fukutomi residence is one of them.

The former residence is open to the public as a history museum. I have posted on the Shiryokan Izushi History Museum before, but it is deserving of more exposure.

It is a few minute's walk away from the main tourist area, and consequently gets significantly fewer visitors, which is a real shame.

It is a collection of linked buildings around a courtyard garden and was built in the late 19th century using the highest quality traditional styles.

There is a wide range features that could be described as interior design......

More tomorrow......

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Yunotsu Harbour


Early morning on Oct 15th 2019 and I start the third day of my walk along the Japan Sea Coast exploring as many of the nooks and crannies as I can.

Yunotsu is one of the sites included in the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Site, and the old street of traditional hot spring guest houses and public baths is also a preservation district, but today I bypass that part of town and stick to the waters edge.

The port is now mostly a fishing port although there is a section where tetrapods are produced.

During the Edo and early Meiji periods it was a harbour used by the Kitamaebune ships on the major trade route that connected Osaka with Hokkaido.

Carved into the cliff is a small Buddhist shrine......

There are several side-inlets to the harbour filled with smaller fishing boats. Twenty years ago when we first came to the area one inlet had the remains of a large, modern boatbuilding factory, but it has long since gone.....

From one inlet a small tunnel leads through to Okidomari another site of World Heritage and one of the original Mori-controlled ports that served the silver mines..... I have already done a post....

Monday, September 12, 2022

Kichijoji, Tokoin, Jishoin, & Sanboin


Kichijoji, Tokoin, Jishoin, and Sanboin, are a cluster of small temples/chapels along a narrow mountain lane above Sasaguri near Fukuoka.

I stopped in after carrying on up the road after visiting Raionji, Hagio yakushido, and Hagio Amidado, a small cluster of three temples in the mountain hamlet of Hagio. All three were temples on the Sasaguri 88 temple pilgrimage.

This new cluster of 4 temples was not officially part of the pilgrimage.

5 and a half hours into walking the pilgrimage and we had already visited 15 temples that were officially part of the 88 and had seen hundreds and hundreds of amazing statues.....

These three temples were no different, each with many statues, a lot being Fudo Myo.

I would hesitate a guess that this small pilgrimage of only 50 kilometers meandering around the mountains near Sasaguri has the highest density of Fudo Myo statues of anywhere in the world....

Of all the pilgrimages I have walked in Japan, my guess is that the Sasaguri one is the one that has the highest percentage of pilgrims walking rather than driving....

Even so, I'm not sure how many stop in at these non-official temples.....