Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hunting the Fall Color 2016 Day 3

The third day was overcast and showery, but while taking shelter at the train station in Takahama in the late afternoon I was blessed with a full 180 degree rainbow that over time shrank as the rain passed.

At the start of the day I stopped in at Iwamuroinari Shrine and the splash of color against the colorful honden was nice.

At Matsunoodera, temple 29 of the Saigoku Pilgrimage there was some color, especially the gold of the Gingko tree.

In front of the temples treasure hall was a small garden with sacred rock.

At Nakayamadera temple, part of another Kannon Pilgrimage, but not part of the Saigoku, I had hoped to see inside at some of the special statuary they have, but unfortunately there was no-one about.

Another plant that very much signifies Autumn was susuki, commonly called Japanese Pampas Grass.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hunting the Fall Color 2016 Day 2

Early on the second day I visited several temples along the base of Mount Atago in Nishi Maizuru. It was still foggy but color was to be found.

Not far away a small park/garden in the grounds of the ruins of Tanabe castle.

When I reached the top of Mount Gorodake it was still early enough to catch another autumn phenomenon, Unkai, the sea of clouds. With 360 degree views I tarried here a while until the fog/clouds had burned off.

Heading out from Higashi Maizuru I stopped in at Kongo-in, the premier fall colors spot in the maizuru area, and was not disappointed.

With the beautiful blue skies it was not surprising to find hundreds of people out enjoying the scene

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hunting the Fall Color 2016 day 1

Just got back from what has become an annual tradition of mine, a nice long walk looking for the autumn colors. This year was a 200 kilometer, 10 day trek that was the final leg of my Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

The walk took me from northern Kyoto Prefecture into Fukui and then into Shiga, across Lake Biwa and then finally just into Gifu. The first day I passed through Miyazu, though it was rather overcast and so the colors I found were somewhat muted.

The first photo is at the Sannoguhiyoshi Shrine. The second photo was right next door at a small temple, Nyoganji, where the Gingko tree had only just started to turn. Just in front of the temple was a very small park which is where I took the third photo.

Further into town I stopped in at a wealthy merchants home, the Mikami Family Residence. The main garden was all green, but a smaller side garden had a splash of autumn color.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kyushu Pilgrimage Day 8 Nakatsu to Usa

Sunday, January 6th, 2013, was going to be a fine day weatherwise, though when I started walking it was still dark. I had recently spent a few days exploring Nakatsu, so today I just headed straight to the first pilgrimage temple, stopping in at the local shrine as I passed it.

Yesterday had not included any pilgrimage temples, the first of such days, but today would include a total of four. From Nakatsu I headed inland to a mountain used by ascetics before backtracking and taking a fairly main road east towards Usa.

The main road was fairly uninteresting, much of it being newer road that bypassed villages.

The final stop of the day was across from the famous Usa Hachimangu at a temple that now housed many of the Buddhist treasures removed from the shrine complex when all the pagodas and other temple structures were removed in the 19th Century. Last day of this leg so I headed back home for a month before starting the next section of my walk around Japan.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ocho on Osaki-Shimojima Island

Ocho, now known as Yutakamachiocho, is a small port on the NW coast of Osaki Shimojima in the Aki Nada chain of islands in the Seto Inland Sea.

In the past when the Inland Sea was the superhighway of Japan it must have been quite a busy and prosperous place, but since the advent of powered ships and then the railways and finally the roads it lost its prosperity and is now little more than a fishing village.

In the afternoon of my second day walking along the Aki Nada Islands via a series of bridges that connect them to the mainland, it was from here that I needed to take a small ferry across to the bigger Osaki Kamijima Island.

I like these kind of places. Slow quiet, and absolutely without pretensions, they are to me typical Japan, which is after all,  thousands of islands with countless little coastal communities. Though I often read that growing rice was the base of Japanese tradition, I think living by, from, and on the sea, is a stronger historical tradition.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nakatsu Sunset

At various times in my life I have lived in places where I could view either the sunrise or sunset. For some years before moving to Japan I lived where I could see both.

For the last 14 years I have lived in a narrow valley and so see neither, unless I am off travelling somewhere, so apologies if these pics are boring to you

I approached the castle town of Nakatsu as the sun was setting at the end of my seventh day walking the Kyushu Pilgrimage.

Not outstandingly spectacular, but novel enough for me to enjoy.....

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Murakami Pirate Castle

It was late afternoon as I crossed over the bridge onto Innoshima Island on the first day of my walk along the Shimanami Kaido. I stepped up my pace as there was somewhere I wanted to visit before it closed for the day.

The Murakami were a clan of samurai who for a long time, until Hideyoshi moved them, controlled the waters of the Inland Sea from a series of bases on the islands.

Called pirates, or a navy, depending on who wrote the history, Innoshima was one of their main bases and there were numerous fortifications on the island, though the current structures are far more grand and substantial than anything that existed back then.

There is a small museum and it is possible for visitors to put on some samurai armour for photo ops.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Yasuura Shrine

Yasuura Shrine seems like it was a fairly major shrine in the past. Founded in 938 on the waterfront, aound the end of the 12tch Century it was moved a little inland to its current location in a wide, wooded hill.

The three kami enshrined here are Ikutsuhikone no mikoto, Amatsuhikone no mikoto, & Kumanokusubi no mikoto, 3 of the 5 males born when Susano chewed up and spat out Amaterasu's jewels.

There is a line of 13 secondary shrines that were moved here in 1912 when the government closed down half the shrines in the country.

There was some evidence of recent ritual activity for the new year, but being somewhat removed from the center of Yukuhashi it lacked the lanterns and banners at other shrines I had visited that morning.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Masks at Nobusatohachimangu Shrine

The Masks at Nobusatohachimangu Shrine

Towards the end of my second day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage I was coming into the outskirts of Oda City and stopped in at the Hachimangu Shrine in Nobusato village.

One thing I am always on the lookout for at shrines are masks, and, like many village shrines in rural Japan, this one was not locked so I could go in and look around and found quite a few masks. The mask in the first photo was nice, but not unusual. The second was an unusual style that I had seen several times in the past few days and is specific to this area.

The next one was a standard Tengu mask done in Iwami kagura style, almost exactly like ones I myself have made, but the next one was back to the local style and is, I believe, a karasu tengu.

The final pair were in standar Iwami kagura style and were the old married couple, the mother and father of Kushinada Hime, the maiden rescued from the serpent Yamata Orochi by Susano.