Monday, June 30, 2014

Suga Shrine, Hirose

Across the river from where Gassan Toda castle once stood are two torii, the left goes up to Toda Hachimangu, the main shrine for the Amago lords that ruled from the castle until they were defeaed by the Mori and the domain moved its headquarters to what is now Matsue.

The right hand steps lead up to a branch of Suga Shrine, the main shrine being somewhat west of here.
Both Toda hachimangu and this Suga shrine appear almost abandoned.

The porch of the main building has some really nice carving......

Suga shrines enshrine Susano and his wife Kushinada....

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage Temple 8 Ryushoji


Following the suggested route, temple number 8 is the third temple to visit on the pilgrimage. A small temple on the hillside above Umi, Ryushoji.


There was no-one home for me to ask, so I found out very little about the temples history. The honzon ( main deity) is Dainichi, and there was a covered altar outside to Kannon with many offerings for I presume children.


With the face of a Jizo, but carrying a sword or a staff, maybe I should maybe have lifted the bib to see if anything was in the left hand.......


The mountains across the valley are where Kukai practised austerities after his return from China. My route will take me  up in those mountains the following day.


Quite probably Fudo Myo..... he has fangs, but its not clear what is in his left hand....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 17 Seijyo-ji

Perched right on top of 450 meter high Hoshikamiyama, Seijyoji is probably the highest of all the temples on the Izumo Pilgrimage.

All that remains is the single main hall, which burnt down in 1951, a single stone pagoda, and a single statue.

It is now a Soto Zen temple, but was earlier a Shingon temple. The statue of 11 faced Kannon was supposedly carved by Gyoki which would suggest that it is older than Shingon.

Though it looks abandoned, villagers come here at the end of January for a ceremony that involves making and then carrying up the mountain a huge mochi, rice cake.

There are fantastic views, east towards Daisen 40k away (above) and also west towards Sanbe.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mokoso Shrine

Mokoso Shrine, located in a grove of trees just south of Yakumo is an ancient shrine listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki where it is called  Momino Yashiro.

The three main kami are listed as Kunitokotachi, Kuninosazuchi, & Amenohohi. Kunitokotachi is one, if not the, primal kami that came into being after the separation of heaven and earth, I first encountered it/him at Ayo Shrine and more info can be had in that post. Kunitokotachi was an important kami in Yoshida Shinto, and also in Tenrikyo. Kuninosazuchi I had not encountered before. As with most kami there are a variety of different versions, but most agree that it is one of two patron kami of hills and passes that came out of a union between Oyamatsumi, a kami of mountains, and Nozuchi, another name of Kayanohime, a kami of grasses. Amenohohi was the first emissary sent from the High Plain of Heaven to negotiate the hand over of the land from Okuninushi to the Yamato, and is considered the ancestor of the Izumo Taisha priestly lineage.

There are numerous secondary shrines in the grounds, including Shiogami, Sagi, Inari, and most interesting of all, Toshitokujin, the kami of the New Year with roots in Onmyodo, the Japanese name for Yin-Yang divination. Toshitokujin has connections with Tondo matsuri,... link here

There was also an altar to Kojin, a rope serpent wrapped around the base of a tree. Like Omoto in my region, Kojin is immensely popular in eastern Izumo, yet is not well known elsewhere or in towns. The land kami represented by a straw serpent can be found the length and breadth of Japan....

The shrine had a small Zuijinmon that typically included a pair of old, wooden komainu. The small wooden komainu found inside gates and sometimes flanking the honden or in the main building are much older than the nowadays more common stone komainu found flanking the pathway into shrines which mostly seem to only date back to the Edo Period.

Monday, June 16, 2014



Decided to take a break from the interminable sequence of garden chores that go along with the rainy season here and took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to spend the afternoon on the coast.


We went down to Shimoko near Hamada where Tatamigaura is located.


In 1872 the Hamada Earthquake occurred. The epicenter of the magnitude 7 quake was just offshore, and one of the results was that a section of seabed rose up and is now exposed at all but the highest tides.


The name tatamigaura comes from the fissures in the flat rock that supposedly resemble tatami flooring. As well as lots of tidal pools, there are various strange rock formations, fossils, and sea caves. Access to the shore is via a tunnel that passes through the biggest sea cave that houses a small Buddhist shrine.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Shisa of Okinawa


If there is one icon for Okinawa, it must be the Shisa. They can be seen everywhere, usually in pairs, on roofs, flanking gateways etc.


Like their relatives in mainland Japan, the komainu, shisa are a variation on Chinese guardian lions, often the pairing having one open mouthed, one closed, one female, one male.


Of course, what fascinates me, is the great diversity of styles that have developed, especially in the area of "folk" art.


So this is the first of many posts on the subject :)


Friday, June 13, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Day 7 Yakumo to Hirose

The seventh day of my walk along the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage promised to be yet another fine May day.

My route is going to take me southeast into the mountains where there is a mountaintop temple to visit before dropping down the other side into the Hirose valley.

There are no settlements of any size along the route, so no shops, although I have never been down this road before.

Once the road ascends into the higher country the number of farmhouses drops, and there are just isolated farmhouses..... some abandoned.

Some not yet abandoned.

I will be stopping by at all the roadside shrines and altars I pass on the lookout for interesting statues etc.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kifune Shrine, Saigi, Usa


Wandering around the countryside in the Fall it is easy to notice shrines and temples by the brilliant foliage of ginko trees. Unfortunately this small village shrine in Saigi near Usa station,  had no signboard and there was no-one around to ask for details, so all I know is  it is a Kifune Shrine.


200 meters away and 1 kilometer away were two other shrines named Kibune, though they were written with different kanji, but all three are in all probability branches of the Kifune Shrine in Kibune, just north of Kyoto.


The two main kami are Takaokami no kami and Kuraokami no kami, both connected to water sources and according to myth created from the drops of blood when Izanagi killed the kami of fire that killed Izanami.


There were several smaller shrines in the grounds, including this one to another type of water kami. The door was open and the shintai, the object that the kami resides in when it descends, was a rock. The vast majority of the shintai I have seen have been rocks.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, Temple 16 Fusai-ji

The 16th temple of the pilgrimage is just a few hundred meters from Kumano Taisha, and not surprisingly it has historical links with the shrine.

All that exists is the single Kannon Hall enshrining an Eleven Faced Kannon. It is a Soto Zen temple and is in the grounds of Joe-ji, a temple founded by the Amago Clan. It is also a Soto temple.

Fusaiji was moved here from its original site about 100 years ago. It was located on Tengu Mountain, the mountain behind Kumano Taisha that was the original shrine enshrining Susano. The Kannon was associated with a water source on the mountain.

So, almost halfway through the temples, but less than halfway distancewise It was time to head home fro a break. From the temple down into Yakumo was just a few kilometers, and from there I could catch a bus.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ohama, Osaki Shimojima Island


Up at the crack of dawn I crossed over the bridge from Teshima onto Osaki Shimojima Island and started to walk around the south coast towards Mitarai.


It was so early the local inhabitants were not up and about, choosing to sit on the sea wall.....


In the village of Ohama I stopped in at the two village shrines.


There were a few small fishing boats in the little harbor but no activty....


Looking back to Ohama, the sun about to poke above the mountains...... It promised to be a fine morning walk.