Saturday, March 28, 2015

Takada Hachimangu


Being a mask maker myself, one of the things I am always hoping to find in my explorations of shrines are masks, so I was absolutely delighted to discover these masks in Takada Hachimangu.


Located in a small mountain settlement at the base of Mount Sanbe, the highest mountains in Iwami, the hachimangu is a fairly standard village shrine.


About a hundred years ago the government closed down half the shrines in the country, so probably there were more shrines in this village that had their kami moved here, but there was no sign so I was unable to find out. As a Hachimangu it enshrines primarily Hachiman.


Like many shrines in remote areas it was not locked so I was able to look inside.


The masks were a revelation because they were in a style I am not familiar with. Though in Iwami they are not in Iwami kagura style. As I explored more shrines later in the day I found many more examples of this style.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 27 Senko-ji

The Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is obviously still quite populkar judging by the number of Osamefuda left on thye doors of the Kannon-do.

Actually the Kannon-do is named Chofuku-ji and the main hall next door is called Senko-ji, suggesting that the Kannon-do was a separate temple relocated to this site.

It is a Soto Zen temple, and the main deity is a Thousand-Armed Kannon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Torii Tunnels at Yutoku Inari


Virtual tunnels formed from multiple Torii, shinto gateways, are a feature of many Inari shrines.


Usually each Torii will be inscribed with the name of the donor who paid for it.


Usually made of wood and painted vermillion, there are some places where they are made of plastic.


The most well known and photographed of these torii tunnels is at the Fushima Inari Shrine near Kyoto, but all these photos were taken at Yutoku Inari Shrine in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hitsu Shrine

Usually when I am walking a pilgrimage I have studied the maps and have a pretty good idea of what shrines I will be passing, but Hitsu Shrine was a surprise as it was not marked on the maps, though it most obviously is a shrine.

The main kami is Futsunushi, a martial kami connected with swords. here in Izumo it is most strongly connected to the Mononobe Clan, though it was taken over by the Nakatomi-Fujiwara when they wiped out the Mononobe. In Izumo it was Futsunushi who arranged the handover of Japan to the Yamato in the Kuniyuzuri myth.

Within the grounds was a Wakamiya Shrine, though it did not indicate which kami was enshrined in it, possibly hachiman. There was also a small Inari Shrine.

Behind the main shrine was a Kojin altar with the rope serpent wrapped around a tree.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Japanese Ducks


There are many species of ducks in Japan, but I believe these are Kamo, the common mallard.

They were and are eaten, and their arrival in the Autumn was used as a seasonal marker in poetry.


There has recently been a renewed interest in the use of domesticated ducks in rice agriculture. Traditionally they were used to control weeds and insects in the paddies as well as adding fertilizer.


All these were photographed in Chofu, Yamaguchi.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Terutoko Shrine

Terutoko Shrine is located in the middle of a small, low, wooded hill in the suburbs of Matsue northeast of the castle.

It is listed in the Izumno Fudoki, meaning that it existed a millenia before Matsue and its castle were built. Then it was known as Arawahi-sha.

Later it was known as Teratoko Shrine, and the kami was Teratoko Myojin.

In the Meiji Period its name was changed from Teratoko to Terutoko, thereby removing the reference to temple in its name. The kami was renamed Amaterasu, a common occurrence during the creation of the new imperial-centered state religion. many kami were renamed to bring them under the umbrella of imperial lineage.

2021 Update
A recent look on googlemaps shows that the path I took through woodland and bamboo to reach thye shrine has now gone. Clearcut and ade into a park The slopes either side of the shrine have also been clearcut in preparation of development.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hachiman Shrine, Yuki


These two demon masks were located behind the main building of the Hachiman Shrine in Yuki, a fishing village on the south coast of Tokushima. The spot is named Oni no Koshikake, "Demons Seat".


Apparently several local people saw an  Oni sitting at this spot. Interestingly this is not a story from long ago, as it happened on September 15th, 2002.


Being a Hachiman Shrine, the main kami is Ojin, his mother, Jingu, and either his father Chuai, or his "wife" Himegami.


There was a small Ebisu shrine in the grounds, not surprising at it is a fishing village.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Day 12 Matsue to Mount Asahi to Lake Shinji

I had been hoping to walk this pilgrimage in 12 days but it looked like it would be 13. My route today would be northwest out of Matsue towards Sada Jinja.

From there head west into the mountains to visit a couple of mountain temples. In all there will be 5 temples today, the most in one day for any day of the pilgrimage.

From Mount Asahi it will be downhill to the shore of lake Shinji and then along the coast past the English Garden.

Back through Shinji Onsen to Matsue.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sasaguri Taiso-gu Shrine


The large Torii along the road some distance before the shrine gives some indication of the importance of Taiso-gu locally.


A local tourist website says that Taiso Gongen arrived here from China in 724. Another source says that pre Meiji the shrines name was Jimmu Taiso Shrine. Now the main kami is listed as Izanagi.


There are another 6 kami listed here including Amaterasu, Hachiman, Sumiyoshi, & Hiyoshi, which suggest to me they were all later additions.


Like many shrines in Kyushu the grounds contained some huge Camphor trees. Taiso Shrine is well known for its Kagura, one of the few places in Fukuoka where it still exists.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 26 Senjyu-In

The 26th temple of the pilgrimage is located on a hillside northeast of Matsue Castle, and is known for its views over the rooftops towards the castle and for a 350 year old Weeping Cherry tree.

The temple was reconstructed on this site after the construction of Matsue Castle. It was originally in Hirose which is where the domains castle was before Matsue. This location was chosen so the temple could guard the NE direction of the castle, the direction from which demons arrived.

It is a Shingon temple and the honzon is the 11 faced Kannon.

In a clearing in the woods above the temple was a small abandoned shrine. There was no sign and it had two small buddhist figurines of Kobo Daishi in front of it, but most interesting was this group of monkey statues.

I can find no information about them, though mny first thought would be a connection to Sanno Shinto and Hiyoshi Shrine, but that was Tendai not Shingon. The larger figure seems to be holding rice.

Thursday, March 5, 2015



Onigawara, literally " Demon/Ogre/Goblin Tiles" can be found primarily on temple roofs, but also in shrines and residences. They serve as protection against the weather at the end of ridges.


They also function to ward off evil. What fascinates me in particular is the diversity. These first two are at Jyoei-ji, the temple in Yamaguchi that is home to a garden by Sesshu.


The Oni designs seem to date from the Kamakura Period. Prior to that these end tiles were decorated with flowers or animals. This one is from another temple in Yamaguchi, Toshun-ji.


They are almost always ceramic, though some were wood or stone. This one was at a former samurai residence in Chofu, Yamaguchi.


Many shrines and temples will display onigawara from older buildings that have been replaced like at this small rural shrine in southern Hiroshima.

A previous post on some Onigawara in Shikoku.