Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Flowers of Shikoku

A long time ago a regular reader asked for more flower pictures, so.......

I dont often take pictures of flowers, but while on the Shikoku Pilgrimage I did try to keep a record of what I saw....

All these photos were taken in the middle of August, 2011, in the Yoshino River valley on the first two days of my pilgrimage.

Other than the first photo which is obviously a lotus blossom, I dont know what any of the others are called :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Abandoned Mikoshi


Mikoshi are sacred palanquins or portable shrines used for transporting kami most often seen during matsuris when the kami are paraded around the local community once a year.


It is believed their origin lies in when the great kami Hachiman was carried by palanquin from Usa in Kyushu to Todaiji in Nara in the middle of the eighth century.


When not being used the Mikoshi are normally kept in a special storeroom though it is not uncommon for them to be put on display at New Year when many visitors come to the shrine.


In the heavily depopulated rural areas of Japan many shrines are now virtually unused and the mikoshi are no longer used. These photos were taken in a small shrine in the mountains of yamaguchi Prefecture.


Friday, August 24, 2012



Joren-an is the third and final "chapel"/shrine on the trail up to temple 12 Shosanji.


The huge cedar and statue of Kobo Daishi mark the spot where legend says Kukai spent the night on his ascent of the mountain.


It looked pretty dilapidated and there was no-one around, but I was there out of the main pilgrim season so maybe it is manned in season.


It is at 745 meters above sea level but unfortunately the trail drops down to the valley before starting up the final climb to Shosanji.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Garden of Phalli: more Mara Kannon


This is the third and final post on Mara Kannon. The first post showed the thousands of small, votive phalli left at the shrine. The second, like this post, showed the larger, more individual votive phallic sculptures left there.


The larger ones are made out of wood, stone, and steel.


Most of the phalli are left with prayers for fertility, but other reasons exist..... to cure diseases of the genitals, for improved sexual "performance" etc etc.


Mara Kannon Shrine is located in Tawarayama, a small onsen village in the mountains of northern Yamaguchi Prefecture. There are infrequent buses from Nagato City.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge


Higashiura is a town at the northern end of Awaji Island and its manhole cover depicts the nearby Akashi kaikyo Bridge which connects Awaji to the mainland.


It is a suspension bridge that has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world and it opened in 1998.


The central span is 1,991 meters, but was originally planned to be 1,990 but during construction in 1995 the area was hit by the Kobe Earthquake and the two bridge towers moved 1 meter apart.


The bridge is 3,911 meters long in total.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vacation 2011 Day 18 Essouira


My room in the hotel we stayed at in the medina of Essouira was on the roof so it was not far to go to watch sunrise......


These posts on my vacation in Morocco are not popular with most of my readers, but I found Morocco to be very photogenic and I like the photsos I took, so.......


I ancient times Essouira was settled by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. In more recent times the Portugese established a presence here for a while but the Essouira of today was built by an Arab ruler though he did use all the latest techniques of fortress construction from Europe and many nationalities contributed their expertise. The watchtower at the harbour where I took this photo was designed by someone from Genoa.


Essouira is a major harbour on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and so there is lots of fishing...... and of course fresh fish....


I believe these blue boats are for inshore sardine fishing....


I really liked essouira..... much more laid back than Marrakesh...... not unusual to hear reggae pumping out from many of the stores in the Medina...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art part 2


The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe is usually pictured from the sea front, but the entrance is at the back of ther building on the road and while it is less dramatic it is also interesting.


Photos of thye front can be found here


It was designed by tadao Ando and opened in 2002.


The museums collection is of modern art, both japanese and foreign, with special emphasis on sculpture and prints.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 14 Jorakuji


Jorakuji, the 14th temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage is unusual in several respects. The first being that whereas many temples have carefully manicured gardens and large flat areas of raked gravel, Jorakuji is built on an uneven rocky outcropping with nary a flat spot anywhere.


The second unusual feature is the main deity which is Miroku Bosatsu, known as the "Future Buddha" and who is believed will become a buddha in the future to save all people. It is the only temple on the pilgrimage with this as the main deity.


Meaning "temple of everlasting peace" Jorakuji belongs to the Shingon sect and legend has it was founded by Kukai.


It is believed that diabetes can be cured by praying here and drinking tea made from the leaves of the Yew tree that grows here.


There is also a legend of a woman who carried her crippled husband 5 times around the pilgrimage and on the sixth circuit he was healed here so it is also popular for disabled people.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Sand Sculptures at Aquas


Following the success of last years exhibition of sand sculptures on the beach in front of Aquas it has been done again though this time under cover and in the grounds of Aquas itself. There was a big one of Kakinomoto Hitomaro and his wife Yosami. Surrounded by penguins and Beluga whales, the main attractions at Aquas.


It was nice to see a representation of them that did not descend to "kawaii" manga style.


The other big tableau was of Susano and Yamata no Orochi


There were several smaller sculptures done by teams from local companies. My favorite was this hanya mask.



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Masks of Shikoku


During my Shikoku Pilgrimage I actually visited far more shrines than I did temples. One of the things I was hoping to see at the shrines were masks but I was disappointed that compared to shrines in my area or in Kyushu for example there were actually very few masks. These first ones I posted before in the post on Ichibacho Hachimangu, and they remain the strangest looking masks Ive seen in Japan.


On Day 4 at a shrine in Tokushima City I found this Sarutahiko mask.


After my typhoon adventure in the mountains of Tokushima I was invited into a shrine matsuri near temple 22 Byodoji. One of the village men modelled one of the small Sarutahiko masks they had.


On the next day I reached the Tokushima coast at Yuki and found this pair of Oni at a shrine there.


2 weeks later after having walked all the way through Kochi I came across this fine pair of Tengu masks.