Saturday, December 30, 2017

Seasons Greetings

Every year in December and January I take advantage of the cheap travel provided by the Seishun 18 train ticket and head off for a walk or two. This year was no different.

I took the early morning train from the local station and headed up the Gonokawa River towards Hiroshima. The line will be closing in March of 2018 so this was probably the last time I will be taking this particular train.

When the sun comes up an hour or two later the train is up around kasabuchi and the winter mists filling the valley begins to burn off, making for pretty scenes.

I'm not sure how many people ever read this blog, but to those of you who do, seasons greetings to you and yours.........

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Usuki Castle

Originally situated atop a small island that connected to the mainland by a sandbar at low tide, Usuki Castle is now in the middle of the town.

It was built by Otomo Sorin in 1562 who moved here from Funai Castle a little north. It's position was much better for defense and he left his son in charge of Funai castle.

The Shimazu attacked the fortress aided by a troop of Buddhist monks. Sorin had become  Christian and the Buddhist monks sacked and burned all Christian churches in retaliation for the destruction of their temples in the area. Sorin used a cannon against the Shimazu, possible the first time a cannon had been used to defend a castle in Japan., but was eventually defeated though first all the Christians in the castle had been evacuated by Portugese ships.

In 1873 the castle was decommissioned and almost all structures dismantled and a few years later the castle easily fell to Saigo Takamori. The main gate was rebuilt in 2001.

Yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) is a signature product from Usuki

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Kosanji Revisited


On the second day of my walk along the Shimanami Kaido I stopped in at Kosanji Temple to take some more photos. This first one is a reproduction of the Yomeimon gate at Toshugu Shrine in Nikko.

Like all the buildings at Kosanji that are based on famous historical structures, it is somewhat more colorful and embellished with more details than the original.

The remains of the temple founders mother lie beneath the five storied pagoda which is based on the pagoda at Muro-ji in Nara.

The fifteen meter tall statues of Kannon is based on a statue less than 2 meters tall in Horyu-ji, Nara.

Purchase a selection of ema from GoodsFromJapan

Friday, December 15, 2017

Utono Inari Shrine

Utono Inari Shrine is within the grounds of Usuki Castle ruins.

The Utono Gate used to lead down to the sea but the island the castle was on is now completly landlocked by infill and development.

The shrine was built at the same time as the castle, 1562, by Otomo Sorin who moved his base here from Funai.

As such it was probably a private shrine and not open to the public, like Taikodani Inari in Tsuwano.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage Day 3

Iwami Kannon

Sunday 16th December 2012, and I begin my third day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage with Mount Sanbe silhouetted  inland. Today I will walk from Shizuma down the coast and end at Nima.

There was one of the pilgrimage temples and lots of shrines.  A few mountain roads and a few villages and a nice stretch of beach to walk.

A great day for surfing, I guess,.... we get good surf mostly in the winter it seems.

A couple of the shrines are very intriguing and tell the story of the arrival of Susano from the Korean peninsula. Almost completely ignored in most renditions of the myths and early history of Japan, the two shrines were instrumental in sending me on the search for Susano stories...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ebisu & Daikoku Kote-e

Kote-e are a traditional type of plaster relief often found on storehouses, temples etc. A kote is a type of spatula-shaped trowel used to work plaster, so kote-e means "trowel pictures"

Not purely for decoration, the symbols used in the kote-e were either to ward of misfortune, commonly fire, or , as in the case of the pictures here, to attract good fortune.

Ebisu and Daikoku are both members of the ' Lucky Gods of Japan", and have long been associated with commercial success and wealth. The picture here were taken in Usuki, Oita. Though kote-e can be found all over Japan, Oita does seem to have a lot.

Yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) is a signature product from Usuki & Hita

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sunrise at Yasaka Yahama

On the night of my tenth day walking the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage I stayed in the tsuyado at Saba Daishi Temple .

Next morning, Saturday September 24th, I awoke to a glorious sunrise.

This section of the Tokushima coast is named Yasaka Yahama, which means 8 slopes & 8 beaches.

Just offshore was a small group of islands, and the sun rose from behind the largest.....

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pagoda at Ryugenji

Ryugenji is a small temple in the old district of the former castle town of Usuki on the coast of Oita.

The pagoda was constructed at the latter end of the Edo period, circa early 19th Century.

Other than that I can find no information about the place......

Yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) is a signature product from Usuki & Hita

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yokai Manholes

I won't be posting for a week or so as I am off on the pilgrim trail, and as we are approaching Halloween I thought these would be appropriate.

Sakaiminato in Tottori was the home of Mizuki Shigeru, the great manga writer and the town has a whole bunch of new manhole covers featuring some of his most famous yokai.....

The first one is Gegege no Kitaro, with Daddy Eyeball. The second one is Kitaro's sidekick Nezumi Otoko, ... filthy, disease-ridden, never bathing, with disgusting breath and farts......

Then we have Neko Musume,...normally with the appearance of a young girl but able to transformn into a monstrous cat........ then there is Konaki Jijii.....Little Crying Old Man...... who attaches himself to enemies and then increases his weight until he crushes them.

The final one is Ittan Momen, a length of cotton cloth that attacks by wrapping itself around the head and mouth........

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fukura Tenmangu

Fukura is a district of Usuki, and as I walked into town I stopped in at Fukura Tenmangu. Like quite a few shrines it was actually a temple until the Meiji Period when many temples were converted to shrines by the government.

Being a Tenmangu it features a statue of an ox as well as the usual komainu etc. There are several sub shrines within the grounds.

It seems to be a very popular shrine offering a full range of ceremonies and amulets etc as well as a shrine to a red cat. Red Cat was the nickname of a successful local merchant and petitioners at the shrine pray for business success.

I was there at the end of February and the plum blossoms were in bloom. Tebmangu shrines often have plum trees because of poems Sugawara Michizane wrote about them, in the time before plum blossoms were supplanted by cherry blossoms in the Japanese imagination....

Yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) is a signature product from Usuki & Hita