Friday, May 24, 2024

Yodohime Shrine & Yabusa Shrine: Statues as Shintai


In the immediate vicinity of Hoko-in Temple near Arita I visited two small, local shrines that were interesting because they both had statues as shintai.

Shintai are the objects, usually hidden inside the honden of a shrine,  into which the kami "descend". In some cases, possibly the original form shintai took before the introduction of Buddhism brought the notion of sacred architecture, shintai are trees, large rocks, and even mountains.

I have often read that shintai must be mirrors, but that is a State Shinto rule meant to elevate Amaterasu. In roadside hokora most of the shintai I have seen have been largish stones. Until the separation of Buddhas and kami in early Meiji, many shintai were in fact Buddhist statues.

These first four photos are of a Yodohime Shrine. There are quite a few in this part of Kyushu, and as you can see the honden is actually just a hokora with its doors open showing the statue. Yodohime was the grandmother of Jimmu, the mythical first emperor, but around here she is considered a water deity. The statue looks very Buddhist to me but because of the bib some details can't be seen.

The second shrine is called Yabusa Shrine and I can find no information about iit or who is enshrined here.

Like the Yodohime Shrine it is really just a stone hokora with a small worship hall in front.

As you can see, the statue of the "kami" looks very Buddhist, and the hands are even doing mudras.

The previous post in this series was on the .Yasaka Shrine in Arita.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hachiman Shrine Kawagoe


A little over a kilometer further upstream from the main part of Kawagoe village and bridge is another sizable settlement.

Called Watari on old maps it is now just part of Kawagoe but had a quite large Hachiman Shrine.

One source says it was founded in the early 11th century, which seems feasible as on the opposite bank of the river is a large temple founded even earlier.

I have been to all-night matsuris in almost all the shrines in this area, but not this one. I suspect the main shrine for Kawagoe is the new Suwa Shrine back in the main part of the village. The interior of this one did not have a tengai, the overhead canopy under which kagura is performed.

Being a Hachiman shrine, the three main enshrined kami are Emperor Ojin, his mother, Jingu, and his wife. Also enshrined here are Amenokoyane, Futsunushi, Takemikazuchi, and Ebisu.

The previous post in this series on my walk up the Gonokawa River to its source was Along the Gonokawa to Kawagoe.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Yasaka Shrine Arita


Yasaka Shrine in Arita is almost certainly much older than the most popular shrine in the town, Tozan Shrine.

According to the shrine's information board, appropriately written upon porcelain tiles, it says that originally the shrine was for the local kami.

However, it changed with the importation of the Gion ritual, here said to be of Indian origin.

Mention is made of Gozu Tenno and then Susano, to whom is attributed the creation  of the chinowa.

It changed names to Yasaka after Meiji when all the semi-Buddhist Gion shrines firmly became Shinto.

There is a small Tenjin shrine in the grounds, another of the kami associated with protection from pestilence and disease.

There were multiple pairs of komainu, with the oldest pair made of sandstone severely weathered..

The previous post in this series exploring Arita on day 70 of my Kyushu pilgrimage was on the nearby Kyushu Ceramics Museum.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Jozan Inari Shrine


Jozan Inari Shrine is tucked away at the northern end of the grounds of Matsue Castle and consequently is missed by most visitors.

It was a favorite spot of Lafcadio Hearn who lived literally a stone's throw away across the moat and visited here often.

Jozan Inari Shrine is the origin of the  Shikinen Shinkosai Festival, one of the top three boat festivals in Japan wherein a procession of brightly decorated boats transport the kami of the shrine 10 kilometers downriver to Adakaya Shrine. The festival only takes place every ten years and the next will be in 2029. Some of the boats are stored at Adakaya Shrine which is worth visiting for the unusual straw "serpents"

The shrine was established in 1638,  a couple of decades after the castle was built when the grandson of Ieyasu, Matsudaira Naomasa, took over the domain.

He had a vision that said Inari would protect not only the castle but also his Edo estate.

Though there are many different Inari's, its primary feature was as a kami of rice, although later it became very much associated with business success. In this case Inari was very much seen in Matsue as a kami to protect the home from fire.

The aroach to the shrine is like many others, and lacks the "tunnel" of red torii seen at many Inari shrines.

However, if you venture behind the main buildings you will find thousands of fox statues....

The previous post was on the Western-style Meiji-era guesthouse in the castle grounds.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Kyushu Ceramic Museum


The Kyushu Ceramic Museum is a large, modern museum devoted to ceramics produced in Kyushu but predominantly locally produced Arita ware. For anyone with an interest in ceramics it is a must visit site.

It is located on a hill not far from Arita JR railway station.

The museum has a collection of more than 30,000 pieces, about 1,500 of which are on display at any one time, so if you have been before, a later visit will have different works on display.

There are also temporary themed exhibitions as well as the changing exhibits from the permanent collection.

The museum has two big collections donated by private collectors, one focussing on Arita ware made for the domestic market and one exclusively on works exported.

There is also a gallery devoted to contemporary ceramics of Kyushu.

There are a couple of other, smaller museums in Arita specializing in ceramics, but this is the biggest.

The museum is one from 9 to 5 except Mondays. Entry is free.

The previous post in this series exploring Arita was on the famous porcelain shrine.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Maruyama Shrine Awa Ikeda


Maruyama is the name of a small hill in the town of Awa Ikeda in what is now Miyoshi cIty, Tokushima, on Shikoku.

Maruyama is a very common name as it literally means "round mountain", ... we have one a few kilometers from my place.

Ikeda is also a very common placename, so it is prefaced with Awa, the old name for the province to distinguish it from other Ikeda's around the country.

The shrine is fairly unexceptional, just a typical village shrine.

There are a variety of ways of reading the enshrined kami's name but they are all versions of the great Izumo kami Susano. Here it seems it was probably Gozu Tenno, the original "plague god" of Gion whose origin is disputed but heavily connected with Korea, as is Susano.

The honden is fairly new, and other than that I can find no other info on the shrine. I visited at the start of day 4 of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage. The previous post in the series was on the walk along the river to end the day before.