Friday, July 31, 2015


Yumachi is the settlement between Tamatsukuri Onsen and Lake Shinji and has a quite substantial Hachimangu.

Unfortunately there was no signboard and nobody around so I couldn't find out the names of the numerous secondary shrines in the grounds.

It was curious that it din't have an Izumo style shimenawa.

One of the older sessha had its own protective roof and walls

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Itsukushima-Gu, Togo


Towards the end of my first days walk across and around  Kunisaki  the valley narrowed and the road started to climb towards the middle of the cone shaped peninsula.


Like all the shrines I had visited that day on my walk from Usa Hachimangu, the shrine had a golden Gingko tree in its grounds, though no Nio.


This small shrine was called Itsukushima-Gu, and is therfore a branch of the famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima near Hiroshima, enshrining one of the 3 Munakata goddesses connected to travel between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.


There was no signboard nor anyone around so I couldnt find any more information, though there was a small Inari shrine and several what I presumed were aragami shrines.


What is noticeable to me is the difference between shrines in different areas of Japan. In some places, like here in Kunisaki, there is a palpable sense of ancient mystery, though I continue to define what exactly that means :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Taikoiwa Fudoson


This 7 meter high Fudo Myo is carved directly into the cliff face part way up Mount Kurokami near Arita in Saga.


At more than 500 meters in height, the mountains have numerous outcroppings and rock formations, the type of place Yamabushi were drawn to. The mountain is home to legends of giant serpents and it is though Kukai stopped here on his way to China.


Underneath the carving is a large mirror which faces east and reflects back the sunrise to the land below.


The path leading up to the carving has numerous statues including many Fudo, which I will post later.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Tamatsukuri Historical park

Both the manhole designs for Tamatsukuri feature magatama, the "comma" shaped jewels. This first design also includes an image of the Tamatsukuri Historical Park.

Located on the hillside right behind the Public Onsen, the park is the site of the biggest magatama production area so far discovered in Japan.

There is a modern structure protecting the archeological remains of the magatama workshop and a reconstruction of a yayoi period building.

Behind the park is a small museum with displays on magatama and their historical production.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sumiyoshi Shrine, Mitarai


Mitarai, on Osaki Shimojima in the Inland Sea grew into a major seaport in the mid 17th Century. Initially it was a good spot for boats to  wait for favorable winds and tides, but prospered by offering services that the sailors desired.


The Sumiyoshi Shrine on the waterfront dates from this time.


Sumiyoshi shrines are noted for offering protection for those undertaking sea journeys. The original Sumiyoshi shrine is in Hakata which was the main point of embarkation for mainland Asia. The Sumiyoshi shrine established in what is now Osaka, the main port serving the capitals of Yamato, is now considered the head shrine.


The three main kami are the Sumiyoshi "brothers", Sokotsutsuno, Nakatsutsuno, & Uwatsutsuno, who according the the standard mythology were created when Izanagi purified himself after visiting Izanami in Yomi. It is possible they represent the three main starts of the Orion Constellation which were used for navigation. Later Empress Jingu was added,.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tamatsukuriyu Shrine

The main shrine in Tamatsukuri is the Tamatsukuriyu Shrine. The three main kami are Kushiakarutami, Onamuchi (Okuninushi), & Sukunahikona. The latter two are well known, but this was my first encounter with Kushiakarutami, who was the priest Tamasuri (he who makes the jewels) who enshrined Okuninushi following the ceding of the land to the Yamato, Kuniyuzuri.

Kushiakarutami is also equated with Haakarutama and Amenoakarutama, the first being the kami that gave Susano the jewels he used in his "contest" with Amaterasu, and the second being the kami that produced the jewels that were hung outside the cave that Amaterasu used to hide away in. The common feature of all these kami is the production of "jewels", the comma- shaped stones known as magatama. Tamatsukuri was a center of magatama production and the unusually shaped treasure house of the shrine has many of the objects found in archeological digs in the shrine area.

Nowadays the shrine is most well known for its "wish fulfilling stone" (negai ishi). Nowadays you can buy small stones from the shrine office and hold them against the almost spherical stone and have its power transferred.

There are numerous secondary shrines within the grounds including an Inari, Konpira, Susa, a Tama no Miya, Several other shrines I can find no information about, Kikakashi, Fukutoku, & Sanatama.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Saikokuji, Onomichi


Saikoku-ji is a major temple complex in Onomichi, and along with Senko-ji and Jodo-ji it is one of the three temples that shouldn't be missed among the dozens found along the temple walk.


It is approached up a long slope that ends with the impressive Niomon with its huge straw sandals. Then there are steps to climb up to the temple complex itself on several levels.


According to the founding legend it was founded by Gyoki sometime around 739. Now it is a Shingon temple. The Daishi Hall has some nice Fudo statues inside and out.


The temple burned down, along with Gyokis Honzon, in the early 11th Century, but Emperor Shirakawa ordered it rebuilt in 1081. The main hall and three storey pagoda are both Important Cultural properties.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Inari Shrine at Tamatsukuriyu Shrine

The biggest shrine in Tamatsukuri is Tamatsukuriyu Shrine, and within its grounds is a small Inari Shrine.

Guarded by a pair of fox statues, the fox being the messengers of Inari.

It is fairly common to find beheaded statues with missing heads replaced by a  head-shaped rock. Ive seen that with jizo statues a lot but never before with a fox statue.

Behind the shrine shelves have been made is a small overhang in the rock and several lines of miniature fox statues have been left by worshipers/petitioners.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 2 Sofukuji


A few of the temples on the Iwami Kannon Pigrimages are likely to be quite large and important, but I expect most to be like this one, Sofukuji, officially temple number 2.


Its a small village temple of the Soto Zen sect located in Ikeda at the base of Mount Sanbe. There was no-one home so I could not get into the main hall and see the main Kannon statue, the honzon.


However you never know what you are going to find, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover this collection of statues which seem to be rakan, the 500 disciples of the Buddha.


One of the intriguing things about the rakan is the diversity of faces and poses. It is said that you can always find a statue that reminds you of someone you know.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 33 Seiganji

The 33rd and final temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is Seiganji, located in the north of Tamatsukuri Onsen.

It is a Rinzai Zen temple and the honzon is a Kannon, but it is not the Kannon of the pilgrimage.

It is located in the small Kannon Hall next to the main hall. It was built originally in 1702 and was located in the mountains at a temple called Iwayadera. It was moved here in 1873.

Staffs left by pilgrims who have completed the pilgrimage. I have never seen another walking pilgrim while I walked the pilgrimage, and I suspect most of the staffs were carried by car pilgrims.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable pilgrimage for me. I will post a couple of more posts of shrines I visited on my way from here to the station, and then I will concentrate my posts on my Kyushu pilgrimage.