Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 91 Shinko-ji

Located almost right under an expressway that runs from Moji towards Kanda, there is not much to Shinkoji, temple 91 of the 108 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage, just a couple of nondescript almost ramshackle buildings.

In the 13th Century a wandering monk saw a purple cloud over the mountain and decided to build something here. Later the Ochi Clan made headquarters here during a military campaign and then later built the temple and used it as a family temple.

In 1862 it was burned down during some sort of military action by samurai from Choshu, but I have been unable to ascertain under exactly what circumstances.

Not a grand temple, but there was some nice eclectic statuary.....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fudarakusan-ji Temple,,, dying to get to heaven

Fudarakusan is a Tendai temple located on the coast in Nachi at the southern end of Wakayama. According to legend is was founded by an Indian monk in the 4th century, hundreds of years before the official introduction of Buddhism into Japan.

It is one of two temples that are part of the Kumano Kodo World heritage Sites and is most famous for Fudaraku Tokai..... journeying to Paradise. Fudaraku is the Japanese version of Mount Potalaka, the Pure land of Kannon that lay off the southern tip of India.

Monks would be sealed within rudderless and oarless boats and set adrift with food and water for 30 days on their journey to reach paradise. They were not always sealed in as there are reports of monks jumping overboard and drowning after being towed out to sea and released. Another favorite tactic seems to have been pulling a plug in the hull so the boats quickly sank.

It seems obvious that the vast majority would have died, though there is a case of one monk who managed to drift and come ashore in what is now Okinawa to continue with his life. The tourist literature states that in later times the monks would be set adrift once they had passed away naturally.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 92 Fudo-in

I can find very little information about Fudo-inm temple 92 of the 108 temples on the Kyushu pilgrimage, other than the honzon is Fudo Myo-O and the temple was founded in the 13th Century.

There were several stone Fudos in the grounds, and all the structures were concrete and fairly modern.

What was most obvious were the hundreds and hundreds of large pet bottles each containing a candle. Obviously part of some new year ceremony or celebration.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Just after dawn I crossed the isthmus into the fishing village of Horikoshi. In the middle of the island the mountains were still draped in clouds.

On the waterfront a small hokora, wayside shrine, with a recent offering of sake.

Like many fishing villages the houses had their backs turned to the sea. No windows looking out that way, just an expanse of dark, weathered wood with occasional doorways.

Up the hillside at the edge of the community I found what I was looking for, Horikoshi-an, temple number 5 on the Shodshima pilgrimage, a simple hermitage located right next to the village shrine.

From here the pilgrimage path heads up into the higher parts of the small peninsula down towards the next temple.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rural Industrial Interlude

After crossing the pass from Moji I started downhill towards the first pilgrimage temple of the day when I passed a ubiquitous sight in rural Japan, a small quarry.

It's hard to comprehend just how much concrete is poured in Japan. There are some truly massive limestone quarries that produce the cement, but the second ingredient in concrete - aggregrate- , crushed rock, is found everywhere.

Also ubiquitous in even the most remote rural areas are storage areas filled with scaffolding and forms for concrete.

This quarry did offer some nice shots however.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fuku Shrine, Shizutani

Around lunchtime on the first day of my walk along the Chugoku Pilgrimage I was approaching Shizutani and stopped in at Fuku Shrine. Like many shrines in the area, Bizen, the komainu were ceramic, known as Bizenware.

Apparently, about a year after I was here the pair of komainu were stolen, but reappeared two months later, though a little damaged.

Unusually for a rural shrine, it was not founded until 1688. many town shrines were founded then as towns were primarily a product of the Edo period. As Shizutani School is only a short distance away, and it was founded in 1670, it may be related.

Also, considering its location, the choice of main kami is unusual, Okuninushi. It is quite some distance from the old road that ran between Izumo and the capital.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tonoe Shrine Moji

Tonoe Shrine sems to be the major shrine of Moji in Kitakyushu, but it is overshadowd by an elevated expressway under which you must pass to reach the shrine.

Within the grounds though now considered separate, is a small temple that legend says was funded by Kobo Daishi in 806.

The three main kami enshrined here are Amenominakanushi, considered by the Kojiki to be the first kami to exist, but barely mentioned in the Nihongi, it is believed that in ancient times there were no shrines to him. The other two are Izanagi and Izanami.

Being early in the new year there was a big area covcered with a canopy filled to overflowing with last years ofuda and other ritual paraphenalia bought at the shrine last new year. They will all be ceremonialy burned in a few days,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nakijin Castle

This is quite obviously not a Japanese castle. It's the ruins of Nakijin Castle on the main island of Okinawa, and one of the 5 castle that are part of the World Heritage Gusuku Sites. It's the second largest of the castles at more than 14 acres and with over 1.5 kilometers of wall.

The walls are made of limestone, and very little of it has been worked. The walls are curved and follow the contours of the land, whereas Japanese castle walls are usually straight.

It dates back to the 13th Century, several hundred years before the kind of castles we now think of as Japanese castles were built.

When the Satsuma from Japan invaded in 1609 the castle burnt down and was completely abandoned not long after, although sacred sites within the walls were still visited.

Of the 5 castle sites it is the only one not surrounded by an urban area and there are great views from it.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 6 Kokura to Kanda

January 4th 2013, and after spending the New Year with my wife I am back in Kyushu for the next leg of my 2,200 kilometer walk, starting where I left off a few days ago in Kokura.

I headed east to Mojiko and stopped in at a major shrine there before cutting over the mountains.

I visited two of the pilgrimage temples as well as a couple of other temples.

I also visited several more shrines. From Kanda I hopped on a train back to Kokura as I had a really good deal on a hotel room there. In Kokura I went out and enjoyed the illuminations.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gyonyu Dam

Early on the second day of my walk around the Kunisaki Peninsula I quickly pass the highest point, which I will be revisiting in a few days when I come up from the south. I carry on east towards the coast where I have a room booked for the night.

Partway down I soon come to the resrvoir behind Gyonyu Dam. Finished in 1997 the dam is for "flood control", which is really just code for " we have shedloads of cash to pour as much concrete as we can". The construction industry in Japan occupies a similar position in the economy as does the military industrial complex in the USA.

There are more dams in Japan, per capita, and per acre, than anywhere else. There is not a river that has not been dammed.

The reservoir is quite pretty, especially with the low sunlight and the remnants of Fall color. From here the valley descends and widens as it approaches Kunisaki Town.