Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year of the Ram, Goat, Sheep


Best wishes for the coming year to all of you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Manai Shrine

Manai Shrine is another of the 6 shrine pilgrimage around the Ou District of Izumo. It is also listed in both the Izumo Fudoki and the Engishiki.

Prior to the Meiji Period it was known as Izanagi-sha, which tells us who the primary kami is. It is not far from Kamosu Shrine, another shrine connected to Izanagi's flight from Yomi.

Also enshrined here is Amatsuhikone, one of the 5 male kami created by Susano out of Amaterasu's jewels. The most well known of the 5 is Amenooshimimi, the father of Ninigi.

There are three secondary shrines in the grounds, though no information is available about who they enshrine except one has some small foxes suggesting Inari.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage, Day 2 November 9th 2012


For the second day of this virtually unknown pilgrimage I start at the base of Mount Sanbe and head towards Shizuma, just a few kilometers south of where I started on the first day. That first day was all uphill so today it will be all downhill, though thankfully it is a different route so I do not have to do any backtracking.


There will be a couple of pilgrimage temples on this day, neither of which I have been to before, as well as numerous shrines, including the Ichinomiya, highest ranked shrine, of Iwami.


In the high country Fall was in full swing,


Like 99% of Iwami it was going to be rural with just a few small villages until I reached the coast.


And, of course, there were going to be surprising and unexpected things to see, which really is the main reason I do this walking.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 24 Jyo-onji

Jyo-onji, the 24th temple on the pilgrimage was most curious. A very simple wooden building was the only structure.

Founded at the end of the Heian Period it was a Tendai temple named Hogenji and the main deity was the Horseheaded Kannon, a quite rare manifestation of this popular deity. The original statue has long since been destroyed.

The temple several times fell into disuse and was revived. In its current form it is a Shingon temple and the main deity, honzon, is the 11 faced Kannon. It was renamed Jyo-onji.

It was for a period of time the Jinguji of nearby Kamosu Shrine.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Some More Round Windows


My posts on the round windows of Japan have been popular, so here is a selection of ones I've found recently. This first one has to be one of my favorites. It is in an outbuilding in Henshoin Garden, in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture.


This one is in the Ohashi House, a wealthy merchants home in  Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.


This one is in a shelter in the garden next to Fukuyama Castle in Hiroshima Prefecture.


Korakuen garden in  Okayama.


The Chinese garden Enchoen, on the shore of Togo Lake in Tottori.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Kojin of Rokusho Shrine

Rokusho Shrine, like all the other shrines in this part of Izumo, have altars to the land kami Kojin, represented as a serpent made of rice straw.

Nowhere near the scale or complexity of the ones at nearby Adakaya Shrine, and lacking eyes, nostrils, or a tongue, they are however more complex than the equivalent serpents in my area.

Here there are 5 separate altars, suggesting that they come from 5 different communities in the area.

Curiously, one thing they all lack is bodies. They are just heads. I have never seen that before, usually the serpentine body is wrapped around a tree.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Married Demons of Okazaki Shrine


Okazaki Shrine in the fishing village of Yuki on the Tokushima coast is a small local shrine, now made of concrete. There was no information about which kami is enshrined here.


However there was a wonderful pair of demons carved directly into two sections of massive logs. They were called "Meoto" which usually is translated as married.


There once stood in the shrine grounds a massive, old Tabu no ki tree, which I believe is a kind of Bay tree. The tree became too old and was in danger of falling so it was cut down, and a local man carved the two demons into it.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rokusho Shrine

Located in a grove of trees surrounded by rice paddies, Rokusho Shrine is, like Iya Shrine and Adakaya Shrine, part of a 6 shrine pilgrimage in the Ou district of eastern Izumo.

Behind the shrine there are posts showing the layout of what was the provincial government buildings during the Nara and early Heian Period.

Rokusho Shrine is called a Soja, a shrine where different kami are gathered together in one place. usually this was to make it easier for district officials to visit the shrines in their area, a case of bringing the mountain to Mohamed, but here it seems to be a collection of the six most important national kami. Collectively enshrined here are Izanagi and Izanami, their "offspring" Amaterasu, Susano, and Tsukiyomi, and Onamuchi, otherwise known as Okuninushi. All six kami are mythologically local to this region as well as being nationally important.

There are three secondary shrines in the grounds, a Tenmangu, Chomei, & Oji, but for me the most interesting are the Kojin altars,

There are a total of 5 of these altars...... next post.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oimatsu Shrine


Oimatsu Shrine is located just off the main road running through Sasaguri, northeast of Fukuoka. I visited at sunrise on the second day of my Kyushu pilgrimage.


At the entrance stood a massive, old Camphor tree almost 10 meters high. Many of the shrines in this area have big camphor trees, though this one also had a cedar tree whose trunk had divided into two.


Though it is not called a Tenmangu, the kami enshrined here is Sugawara Michizane, known sometimes as Tenjin. There are a lot of Tenjin shrines in this area which is not surprising as it is close to Dazaifu where Sugawara was exiled and died.


There was also a small sumo ring in the grounds. In some areas of Japan shrines will have a sumo ring, and in other areas they won't. Not sure what the deciding factor is or was.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adakaya Shrine

Adakaya Jinja

Adakaya Shrine is most well known as being the starting point and destination of the Horanenya, the massive boat festival that takes place just once every 12 years. The boats used in the festival can be seen in the grounds of the shrine.

The main kami is Adakayanushitakigihime, indicating that Takigihime, one of Okuninushi's many daughters ruled over this area. The areas name, Adakaya, suggest a link with the ancient Korean kingdom of Kaya.

Within the grounds are secondary shrines to Kunisokotachi, another name for kunitokotachi, one of the primordial kami of the universe, Susano, Inari, and Omodaru, a kami I had not heard of before, but belongs to the generation of kami just prior to Izanagi and Izanami.

The most interesting aspect of the shrine is the two altars to Kojin which I have posted about before.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gokoku Shrine, Hagi


The Hagi City Gokoku Shrine is located on a hillside in the far north of the city. Many Gokoku shrines were built on former castle sites to imbue them with authority.


Gokoku shrines are in essence branches of the infamous Yasukuni Shrine, and like it are the product of the modern period and very much a part of what would later be known as State Shinto.


Gokoku shrines enshrine all those who died "serving the Emperor", This one was the first Gokoku Shrine I've seen that was virtually abandoned. This is probably due to the fact that in 1939 the government limited its support to just one Gokoku Shrine per prefecture, and the one in Yamaguchi City was chosen.


There was a really nice old well :)


Thursday, December 11, 2014


Originaly named Entsu-ji, this temple was founded under the orders of Emperor Konin in 773.

In 1345 Ashikaga Takauji established Ankoku temples in every province to honor samurai killed in battle and Entsuji was chosen to be the Izumo Ankokuji. It became a Rinzai Zen temple.

The older, traditional sects of Buddhism all had strong ties with the Imperial family and the aristocracy in Kyoto, but the shoguns chose to support the Zen sects because they were newer and with less ties to former ruling class.

The main deity worshiped here is the 11 faced Kannon.