Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ehime Science Museum


The Ehime Prefectural Science Museum is situated on the hillside overlooking Niihama and the Inland sea.


It opened in 1994 and was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, an internationally-renowned Japanese architect who I am not very familiar with, but I have seen his Mojiko Retro Tower.


The complex of buildings uses geometric shapes... cone, triangle, cube, sphere,  semi-circles etc as well as a large reflective pool.


Embodied in the concrete is titanium, granite, and marble.


The museum is open from 9 to 5 daily, except Mondays. Entrance is 500yen


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shikoku 88 Temple 19 Tatsue-ji


Tatsueji is known as a "sekisho", a barrier gate or spiritual checkpoint. There are stories of pilgrims who could not enter the temple grounds and therefore not continue with the pilgrimage because they were impure of heart.


Believed to be founded by Gyogi, who carved a miniature Jizo as the main deity, Kukai later visited and carved a much larger statue and enshrined the original inside it. It is now a Shingon temple.


Like so many other temples, Tatsueji was burned down by Chosokabe and then rebuilt afterwards at its present location. The current building date from 1977, built after another fire.


The very nice ceiling paintings in the new main hall were painted by art students from Tokyo.


In a small concrete shrine in the grounds are the old bell rope with a womans hair attached. This is from the most famous story of Tatsueji, the story of Okyo. Okyo, a woman from Hamada here in Iwami was sold as a girl to a brothel in Hiroshima. Later resold to Osaka she met and fell in love with a man called Yosuke. They both ran away and returned to Hamada and married. Later she began an affair with a man called Chozo and together they plotted and killed Yosuke. They ran away to Shikoku and began the pilgrimage. The Shikoku Pilgrimage has always had a reputation as a place where people could hide. When they got as far as Tatsueji Okyos hair became entangled in the bell rope. She confessed their sins to the priest and then devoted their lives to being devout Buddhists and lived out their lives in Tatsue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Inome

After leaving Onamuchi's shrine the narrow road continues to wind steeply up the mountainside. I love walking these roads as they are more like wide asphalted hiking trails with very little traffic, maybe 1 or 2 vehicles an hour and they usually being Post Office or delivery vans.

At the pass the road forks and I take the right-hand one, the road less travelled, and now I enjoy the road even more as it descends. geologically speaking japan is a very new land, so erosion has not smoothed out the mountains and so they are still steep.  The only sound is of rushing water on its way to the Japan sea a few kilometers downhill

Approaching the village of Inome, it was mostly tea in the fields. Inome means "Wild Boar Eye" and refers to a nearby sea cave that is shaped like a wild boars eye. According to the Izumo Fudoki dreaming of this cave was a portent of your imminent death. The cave is also considered to be one of several entrances to Yomi, the underworld, the most famous one being the one used by Izanagi

Tea does not need flat land to be grown, which suggests that these were once rice-paddies. There was no-one on the street of the village who I could ask.

In the middle of the village the Otoshi Shrine with its unusual double honden

Saturday, January 26, 2013

More Flowers of Shikoku


Continuing with some more photos of flowers I noticed while walking around Shikoku on the 88 temple pilgrimage. This one was in the mountains of Tokushima the day after the typhoon had passed in early September.


These were growing in late September in the bank between rice paddies just across from bangai temple 4, Saba Daishi, where I spent the night in the free accomodation.


These were growing in early October down in Kochi after rounding Cape Muroto


These were a few days later a little south of Kochi City. I am afraid I am not very knowledgeable about what any of these flowers are..... maybe a reader can enlighten us?


Of course one place you will always find flowers are beneath buddhist statues and gravestones. These were at temple 32 Zenjibuji. Many times they will not be real flowers, but these were. I remember being very impressed with the flowers on diplay in Mitakedera in Hiroshima and marvelling at how dedicated the staff must be to have so many fresh flowers on offer and when I looked closely realizing that they were plastic.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hagi castle


Following the success of the Tokugawa at the Battle of Sekigahara the Mori Clan were stripped of most of their landholdings and moved their base from Hiroshima Castle to what is now Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture.


Construction of hagi castle began in 1604 and was completed in 1608


The Mori ruled here continuously until the Meiji Restoration and the castle was dismantled following the law of 1874 that decommissioned most Japanese castles.


All that remains now are the stone walls and base.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fall Colors at Usa Hachimangu


Hachimangu shrines are the most common type of shrine found throughout Japan, and the Hachimangu in Usa, Oita Prefecture, is the original and head shrine and therefore receives many visitors.


Most visitors though seem to walk through the grounds and head straight to the main buildings on top of the hill and bypass the extensive park-like grounds....


I was starting a 5 day walk across the Kunisaki peninsular and as I had been here before I was not interested in visiting the main shrine again, in fact my purpose was to visit a couple of smaller shrines on the hill to the SE which were the original hachiman shrines.


But before I took a quick walk around the lotus pond hunting fall colors....


It was early in the morning and a little drizzly, so the light was very muted and diffuse



Wednesday, January 23, 2013



Sannose is a small village and port on the east side of Shimokamagari Island. In the 15th and 16th century a castle stood on the hill behind the village and from there tolls were extracted from the traffic on the major sea "highway" through the Inland Sea.


In the Edo Period the port became a major rest stop for travelling dignitaries, daimyos and their entourages on their way to Edo, diplomatic missions from Korea, and the Dutch merchants from Nagasaki. The harbor and stone steps from that period still remain.


Some of these groups could be very large,... one Korean delegation travelled with more than 1,000 bodyguards, and they were all accommodated and feasted during their stay.


There is an art museum, the Rantokaku Art Museum, displaying artists with a connection to the Inland Sea region and works depicting the region, with artworks by Yokoyama Taikan, Heitaro Fukuda, and Manjiro Terauchi among others. There is also a bug museum and an Edo Period Tea House moved here from Takehara, but the main attraction is the Shotoen Garden and Museum which I will post about in the next post on my Aki Nada walk....

Monday, January 21, 2013

Onomichi Temple Walk Jiko-ji


The first temple on Onomichi's Temple Walk is the Jodo (Pure Land) sect temple Jiko-ji. Originally founded in the ninth century it was then of the Tendai sect. There is no missing the entrance gate hewn out of massive blocks of stone.


If you have the time you can stop and make a "Nigiri Botoke", a " squeezed Buddha". made by squeezing a small lump of clay in one hand and then adding a face. The priest will give you instruction and then mail you the finished figure after it has been fired.


When I was there in March the Plums were still in bloom.


The temple is home to a National Treasure. “Kenpon Chakushoku Fugen Enmyo Zo" is a painting on silk of the bodhisattva Fugen Enmyo and is the oldest representation of this bodhisattva in Japan. Like so many National Treasures it is not on public display


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kitahachimangu Inari Shrine


Located right next to Kitahachimangu in Oda City is a small Inari shrine.


Its a small shrine with only about a dozen vermillion torii lining the approach.


Inari are very popular shrines, with many larger shrines having Inari shrines within them. The identity of Inari is also very complex having many historical strands, though nowadays the official identity is as Ukanomitama, an offspring of Susanoo according to the Kojiki


Friday, January 18, 2013


The most poisonous snake in Japan is the Mamushi, also the most common. Gloydius Bomhoffii is a pit-viper and is found all over.

About ten people a year die from its bite, though several thousand get bitten. I see them around my house and in the garden all the time, and as anyone who knows me will know I quite like snakes and do not have the irrational fear of them that many seem afflicted with.

My neighbor catches them and puts them in jars of sake to make a drink called Mamushi Zake. Though many will refer to it as a "tonic", the main use of Mamushi zake is as a viagra equivalent.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tenjin Shrine near Tatsue


After leaving temple 19, Tatsue-ji, the route heads inland and passes this small rural shrine.


Dominated by a huge tree, possibly a Camphor, the shrine also had an unusually small shimenawa.


Though it was called a Tenjin Shrine, enshrining Sugawara Michizane, there were none of the usual indications of a Tenjin Shrine,.... no statues of an Ox, no ema wishing for success in school.


In fact it reminded me of a shrine near my village that is  a Tenjin shrine with a huge, ancient, tree.

The shrine was always simply the tree itself, but faced with closure by the government about 100 years ago the villagers quickly enshrined Tenjin there, and being a "national" kami were spared their shrines destruction.

Could well be that something similar had happened here.