Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Shrine Masks


Continuing with some photos of masks I found in shrines while walking along the Iwami coast this past spring. In a small shrine in a remote fishing cove near Orii were this pair of Ebisu and Daikoku, 2 of the 7 Lucky Gods, and often paired together.


At the Kasuga Shrine in Sufu was this pairing of, I think, Shoki and Oni. These are much older, wooden masks.


At the Itsukushima Shrine in Matsubara another Ebisu-Daikoku pair. They look as if they may have been made out of plaster. I have a small pair made out of plaster at home.


At Ikan Shrine in Shimokou, a demon mask with some variations that I hadnt seen before leading me to believe it is from a mask maker I have not encountered before. The use of curved fangs is unusual and something I had been thinking of incorporating into my own masks.


Finally, at the Hekireki Shrine next to the site of the former Kokubunji, yet another Ebisu- Daikoku pair

Monday, June 29, 2015

Inside Tamatsukuri Public Onsen

A good half of the public onsen in Tamatsukuri is a wedge-shaped concrete structure that in reality serves no purpose at all.

But it looks good, and makes for some nice photographs...... :)

It was designed by Shimane born architect Shin Takamatsu and opened in 1996.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Shrine masks


While walking along the Shimane coast in the spring I stopped in at as many shrines as I could. One of the things I seek out at shrines are masks. many shrines will have masks on display in the main hall  to ward off evil or to attract good fortune. Sometimes they will be regular kagura masks vworn by dancers, but sometimes they will be large and non-functional as masks. This first one was an older, wooden demon mask at Kakihime Shrine in Kushiro near Masuda.


Not far away at the Hachimangu in Tsuda there were a lot of masks on display, the most intriguing being this large demon mask, also wooden and old.


Masks will often come in pairs, the left one is certainly a Karasu Tengu, which would usually be paired with a long-nosed Tengu, but I am not sure if that is what the right hand mask is.


There was also a pair of Tengu in the normal coloring and style.....


And there was a Shoki mask. Shoki, a daoist demon-queller is conflated with Susano in Japan and the two masks are often interchangeble.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tamatsukuri Public Onsen

Tamatsukuri Onsen is among the oldest in recorded history in Japan. Located on the Tamayu River near Lake Shinji it has numerous ryokan and guest houses as well as many large resort style hotels.

In the river itself are several small pools that can be used for free and the main street also has a free foot bath, but the town had no public onsen until 1996.

The architecvt chosen to design the new public onsen was local boy Shin Takamatsu.

His design is ditinctive and uses one of his trademarks, geometric solids.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunset at Kiki


As the ninth day of my walk along the Shikoku Pilgrimage was drawing to an end it was time to seek out a place to spend the night.


After passing through the fishing village of Tainohama I passed through Kiki in a small bay. Outside of the village I settled in on the narrow beach.


It was quiet and with a great view but the high water mark was almost as high as the sea wall and I didn't fancy waking up in the middle of the night with the water lapping at my feet, so I packed up and headed back towards the village.


Back at the edge of the village I had passed a small, wooden observation tower. It had a roof, wide benches, a toilet right next door, and a vending machine, as well as views, so this would be my spot to spend the night. It was not an official rest hut for pilgrims, but it was already dark and I woud be gone by first light and there was no-one around. Stealth camping.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cherry Blossoms at Tamatsukuri Onsen

Now that several months have passed since the cherry blossom viewing season its time for me to post on the subject.

I am not a huge fan of Ohanami,.... seems to be more of a city thing. I like the mountainsides with their wild sakura as they appear and fade like slow motion fireworks. but the overkill of white that has mostly been planted in the modern, urban Japan don't do anything for me.

However, as I walked through Tamatsukuri Onsen on my way to the final temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, the river that runs through the town and down into lake Shinji was lined with cherry tree in full bloom.

It helped that there were no blue tarps under the trees filled with people drinking and eating....

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fudo Myo-o at Myo-o-in


High on Mount Wakasugiyama near Sasaguri in Fukuoka is Myooin.


According to the legend it was under the waterfall here that Kukai (Kobo Daishi) practised austerities after he returned from China.


Not surprisingly there are dozens of statues of Fudo here.


Inside the main hall there were also many statues of Fudo and there were also many other statues of deities and boddhistavas.


The final photo is actually at Monju-in a temple literally next door to Myoo-in


Friday, June 12, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 32 Zenkoji

The penultimate temple of the Izumo 33 pilgrimage is located just south of downtown Matsue in the township of Nogi. It is said that the pine tree in front of the Kannon-do was planted by General Nogi, one of the heroes of the Russo-Japanese War who is known for his ritual suicide following the desth of Emperor Meiji. It is just coincidence that the town is also called Nogi.

The Kannon-do was originally located some distance away at a temple called Fukuoji and was moved here about 350 years ago. The monument in front of the main hall is a memorial to the dead of Iwo Jima.

Zenko-ji belongs to the Jishu sect, a branch of Pure Land Buddhism founded by the monk Ippen, and is not such a common sect, in fact I don't remember having visited a Jishu temple before.

It's a relatively small, urban temple but with quite a few statues in the grounds including this fine Fudo Myo and this one below who had lost his head at some point.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hagi Pachinko


Pachinko parlors are ubiquitous in Japan. Garish, noisy, usually with lots of flashing lights they can be found everywhere,


Their architecture usually tends towards the flashy as well, and they are often huge multi storey structures that are mostly empty space. They tend to be demolished and replaced fairly often, and I was once told that this made sense for tax purposes.


Hagi, the old castle town in Yamaguchi, is known for being one of the few areas where the old samurai district still remains and one would think that there woud be some sort of zoning to keep unsightly structures out, but apparently not.


This parlor is right on the edge of the temple district, and towers above the surrounding buildings although the high-rise section is pure show and non-functional, merely a shell.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ube City, Yamaguchi


One of the common manhole cover designs in Ube City on the south coast of Yamaguchi depicts Katta-kun, a Great White Pelican born in a local park that became quite a celebrity.


Tokiwa Park is also home to many swans, including Black Swans, and they feature on several other designs.


The city markets itself as " a city of greenery, flowers, & sculptures" pretty much on the basis of the park, but in fact, like much of the southern Yamaguchi coast, it is very industrial with refineries and factories producing chemicals, steel, and most famously, cement.


The official city flowers are Azalea and Scarlet Sage, but the center of this bottom design appears to be Iris.