Thursday, January 30, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 9 Mine-ji

I have been to Mineji before and found it to be really interesting. Details about the temple and its history can be found in this post, and a post about the Nio and Fudo Myoo can be found here. One thing that was new this time was that the roof of the Niomon was covered in solar panels.

Though I already had plenty of photos it was a different day with different lighting conditions and I had a different camera, so I wandered around taking more photos.

Its only 180 meters above sea level, but still has nice views down to the valley and town below.

I hadn't noticed the garden before......  I went to the little office to chat with the priests, a father and son, and learnt that there was something else new.... a small tsuyado, a room offered for free for pilgrims to stay in. The son had walked the Shikoku pilgrimage and had obviously stayed in the many tsuyados there. This is the only one I know about on the Izumo 33 pilgrimage. They offered me the use of it for the night, and though there were still several more hours of daylight and my plan had been to sleep out a bit further upriver, I accepted.

The next morning as I was leaving the son came up and gave me some onigiri and fruit to have for breakfast. I like Mine-ji :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Manhole Horses


There is archeological evidence that horses have been in Japan for thousands of years, however the earliest records of Japan by the Chinese in the third century say that Japan did not have any horses. It is known that horses were introduced from Korea in the 4-5th centuries and this seems to be from when most Japanese horses are descended. The above manhole is from Mochizuki, a small town in Nagano. The area bred and raised horses for the Imperial court since ancient times.


Kushima, at the southern tip of Miyazaki, is home to a breed of wild pony, the Misaki Pony, considered a Japanese breed. They live on Cape Toi and are a tourist attraction. there are about 100 of them. Misaki means "cape".


This final one is from Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, and other than the fact that the area offers horse riding as an attraction I can find no explanation for the horse on their manhole design.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 8 Hasedera

Hasedera, which may actually be called Chokokuji, like so many temples, burned down in 1607 and all its records were destroyed so the date of its origin is unknown.

What is known is that it was a Shingon temple until 1451 when it switched to Soto Zen.

It is a branch tempele of Tainei-ji which is located on the north Yamaguchi coast near Nagato.

The statue of Kannon, carved out of a single piece of wood and registered as a Prefectural Treasure, is considered to be a fine example of Kamakura era statuary.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art


The Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in 1989 on top of Hijiyama overlooking the city.
The most noticeable feature is the circular structure at the main entrance.
The gap in the circle is oriented towards the location of the nuclear bomb epicenter.


It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa who designed many museums in Japan and is considered one of the founders of the Metabolism Movement, a contemporary style of Japanese architecture.


It is a very large structure, but most of it is below ground.


The style of the buildings reflects that of traditional Japanese storehouses.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Mishiro Shrine

Mishiro Jinja

Mishiro Shrine is less than 1k from Yaguchi Shrine, and like it is also listed in the Izumo Fudoki and is a shikinaisha, a shrine receiving offerings from the central government in the Heian Period and therefore listed in the Engi Shiki.

Like Yaguchi, it enshrines Susano, but also his "wife" Kushinada, and a grandson Oyamakui, son of Otoshi. Like many of the offspring of Otoshi, Oyamakui has strong links with Korean immigrfant groups in ancient Japan. Oyamakui is the original kami of Mt Hiei and what is now Hiyoshi Taisha. Oyamakui also has connections to the Hata and kamo clans, 2 very powerful immigrant clans .

There is a zuijinmon containing a fine pair of zuijin and their attendant, small, wooden komainu which have a most definite "cute" appearance.

There are 2 smaller shrines within the grounds, an Inari Shrine, and a Takasa Shrine which enshrines Aohatasakusahiko, and all I can find out about him is that he was one of the numerous offspring of Susano.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Temple 23 Yakuoji


With its distinctive hillside pagoda visible from miles away when approaching Hiwasa, Yakuoji is the last of the pilgrimage temples in Tokushima before entering Kochi.


According to the legend it was founded by Gyogi, and Kukai later visited and carved the statue of Yakushi Nyorai. It is a Shingon temple.


Apart from its place in the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage, it also receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Japan who come here to pray for protection for their "unlucky" years, ages 41, 42, & 61 for men, and 32, 33, and 61 for women.


The approach to the temple has two sets of steps, the one for men has 42 steps, and the one for women has 33 steps. The steps up to the pagoda has 61 steps. A coin is left on each step as one climbs.


There are some fine views over the coastal town with its small, reconstructed castle....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yaguchi Shrine

Yaguchi Shrine has no particularly distinctive features, and yet is listed in both the Izumo Fudoki and Engi Shiki.

Yaguchi means "eight mouths", and refers to the 8-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi that was slain by Susano. Susano is the main kami enshrined here.

There is another Yaguchi Shrine in the area that is supposedly where one of the sake barrels that was used by Susano to drug the serpent is buried.

For the next few days of the pilgrimage, I will be passing through the country where the Orochi Myth is set.
It was early May and so everyone was out preparing the paddies and planting the rice.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Kitsune of Shikoku 2


The second installment of photos of fox statues taken on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
This first one is at the Yosakoi Inari Shrine in Kochi City.


Fox (kitsune) statues will be found at Inari shrines where they serve as guardians. Inari is therefore often erroneously called the Fox God. Actually I was surprised at how few Inari shrines I found on Shikoku compared to some other areas of Japan. This one was at a small shrine in Ehime, not far from temple 40.


This one is at a sub-shrine in the grounds of Taga Shrine, a fertility shrine, in Uwajima, Ehime.


Ryukoji, the 41st temple, was originally part of an Inari Shrine, but the two were separated in 1868.


Wearing a tail-warmer, Taisanji, temple 52 near Matsuyama.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 7 Komyoji


Komyoji, the seventh temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is on a mountaintop, Johirayama, overlooking the Ibi River in the Hikawa District. It has a fine pair of Nio.

All temple records were lost so it is not known for sure when it was founded, though a local legend says early in the ninth Century. It is now a Soto zen temple.

A specially constructed building houses what is known as the "Korean Bell", which dates from the fifteenth Century. Almost certainly this was looted from Korea during Hideyoshi's late 16th Century invasion.

The priest wasn't home.... he passed me driving down the mountain while I was walking up, but some of his robes were hung out to dry in the porch of his house.

There are some nice views over the surrounding countryside. This is only the third day of this pilgrimage but it is shaping up to be an interesting and enjoyable one.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shoin Shrine, Hagi.


One of the most popular tourist sites in Hagi is the Shoin Shrine which enshrines Yoshida Shoin.


Shoin was a local samurai who took part in the anti-shogunate activities that lead up to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, though he was executed in 1859 for his part in an assassination attempt, therefore the shrine is very much a part of modern shinto that emphasised those who supported the emperor and his rule.


The shrine was established in 1890 and moved to its present location in 1950.


Before his death he operated a school that now stands in the grounds of the shrine and many of the future leaders of the Meiji government were taught by him, including Ito Hirobumi, Japands first Prime Minister.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014