Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gassan Toda Castle

Gassan, at only 184 meters above sea level is not particularly high, but its shape makes it an obvious choice for a castle, so its not surprising that there was one here for about 1,000 years.

Gassan Toda castle is classified as one of the top 100 castles in Japan, and one of the top 3 mountain castles of the Sengoku period. It is most strongly associated with the Amago Clan who ruled over a large territory

Gradually the Amago lost ground to the Mori Clan, until eventually the Amago made their last stand here.
The castle withstood a first siege, but fell during a second siege, and if I remember correctly it was due to treachery by one of the Amago vassals. It seems that an awful lot of battles were won by vassals switching sides. So much for bushido and loyalty, treachery seems to be the norm.

In 1600 Ieyasu gave the domain to Yoshiharu Horio, but he decided to move his headquarters to what is now Matsue so he dismantled Gassan Toda and used it in the construction of Matsue Castle.

Since the last time I was here they have built a couple of small reconstructed buildings, including one right on top of the mountain where the keep once stood. Last time I slept out here I slept on a bench. Now I have a roof.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lotus Blossoms at Yokei-ji

Started walking the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage last week.

At Yokei-ji the lotuses were in bloom.

It's a Tendai temple, and number 2 on the pilgrimage located on a hilltop overlooking the river east of Okayama City

Thats all,..... just flower porn :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Marine Day

Monday was Marine Day, a national holiday when everyone goes to the beach.

Well, everyone who CAN  go to the beach, go to the beach. In the Iwami region we are lucky to have many fine, white beaches.

We went to a group of small beaches and coves closest to our house. There are no signs to it, just a small road leading off the main road, but local people know it is there.

Right in front of the area where cars can be parked were several families, so we walked a few minutes to the next little cove. There was a family there.

So we walked another couple of minutes to the next little cove and there was no-one there, so we were able to enjoy our private beach.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Diamond City Soleil


When it opened in 2004, Aeon Mall Hiroshimafuchu Soleil, had the much snappier name of  Diamond City Soleil, which is the name it is still popularly called.


It was built on the site of the former brewery of Kirin beer, and the original smokestack/chimney has been incorporated into the mall after having been suitably decorated.


The chimney artwork is about the only thing to distinguish the "Mega Shopping Mall" from the hundreds if not thousands of others all over the globe housing products of global brands.


I have to admit that I find no attraction in such places and can only feel like a visitor from another world....


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 18 Iwakurader

Iwakuradera the 18th temple of the pilgrimage is just a single, small hall located right next to temple 19.

It is actually probably much older than Kannonji (temple 19) and was probably originally located higher up the mountainside.

According to the legend the temple was founded by Gyoki, which would make it early 8th Century. The honzon is also attributed to him.

It is now a Shingon temple.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Temple 25 Shinshoji

Shinshoji, temple number 25, is only a few kilometers north of number 24, Hotsumisakiji on the tip of Cape Muroto.

According to the legend it was founded by Kukai in 807 who is also credited with carving the honzon, Jizo.

The ships wheel is a motif that appears around the temple and the many small jizo statues are holding a ships wheel. According to the legend the local lord was saved from shipwreck by Jizo who took the helm.

The temple was destroyed in the early years of Meiji but rebuilt in the 1890's. It belongs to the Shingon sect.

The concrete main hall was built in 1950, and from it there are great views down on the harbour.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 19 Kannonji

After several temples without Nio it was nice to get back to one with. Temple 19, Kannonji, is located at the bottom of Gassan in Hirose.

It was moved to this location in 1187 from further upstream to pray for the success of building the castle on top of the mountain.

Thgere is no information on who it was who built the original castle, nor about the age of the original temple, though it now belongs to the Shingon sect.

The grave of Yoshiha Haru Horio, the lord who built Matsue Castle and moved the domain headquarters from here to there, though he died before the new castle was finished, so never moved there himself.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fudo Myo of Shikoku part 4


These first 2 photos are of a rather fine statue at the mountain temple of  Konomineji, number 27 on the Shikoku 88.


It is obviously a modern statue and I have no information who did it.


This one at Zenrakuji, temple number 30, is also quite graphic and bold, though it appears his fangs are both pointing down


These final 2 are at Shoryuji, temple 36. All three temples are in Kochi Prefecture.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Toda Hachimangu part 2

This is a follow on post from the previous. The defensive gate at Toda Hachimangu.

As a Hachimangu, the enshrined deity is Hachiman, which came to be equated with Ojin, the emperor whose name was Homuda Wake, as well as his mother Jingu. As the tutelary deity for samurai, there is almost always one associated with castles. The interior has a nice ceiling painting of a dragon.

The largest of the secondary shrines within the grounds is a Takeuchi Shrine just to the left of the main shrine.
Enshrining Takenouchinosukune, a government minister who lived for close to 300 years advising 5 emperors. There is a Takenouchi and Hachiman combined shrine on the southern outskirts of Matsue, but I believe this one is the original and the former was constructed after the castle was moved from here to Matsue.

Thgere are other smaller shrines including an Ebisu, Taisha, and a Sakatoke shrine. Sakatoke seems to be another name of Oyamatsumi, elder brother of Amaterasu and Susano.

There is also a Katsuhi Shrine, which was the original shrine on the mountaintop opposite. The shrine was moved here before the Hachimangu was built. A Katsuhi shrine was rebuilt on the mountain top after the castle was demolished and I will find out more about it before I post about it next week.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Toda Hachimangu part 1

Toda Hachimangu was the tutelary shrine for Gassan Toda Castle which lay across the river. The approach to the shrine is on a direct line to the castle. Halfway up the steps is a Zuijin Gate.

The shrine was established in the 13th Century when a Katsuhi Shrine on the mountaintop was moved here to make way for the castle. The Katsuhi shrine is now back on top of the mountain.

Off to the side of the Zuijinmon was a small Inari shrine, and next to it a Kojin altar.

Kojin is the Izumo name for the local land kami, an aragami, or "turbulent deity" that is the prime focus of local people as can be surmised by the number of gohei left there....

Further up the steps past the zuijin gate is the main gate, a defensive structure as many battles took place here....