Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Templ 24 Rengeji

Rengeji, which means Lotus Temple, is number 24 on the Shingon Kyushu Pilgrimage and is located in the little coastal town of Hiji on the northern part of Beppu Bay.

The pilgrimage guidebook has little to say about the temple. Right next door was a large shrine with similar architecture to the temple so that suggest they were both the same place previously. Both had some nice onigawara.

There was no-one around to talk to and it was a grey day so I pressed on....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Some Art at Kanaya Tenmangu

Kanaya Tenmangu shrine is located just outside what used to be the gate into Hagi castle and was where the the Daimyo and official travellers would stop and pray for a safe journey, consequently it received many paintings and such as offerings.

The paintings of horses may well be an earlier version of "ema", votive plaques that were paintings of horses as a substitute for giving a real horse. The coiled snake painting is probably connected to Benzaiten.

One of the things I look for when visiting small, local shrines is the artwork.

The final photo is one of the Zuijin at the shrine. A signboard showed picture of the Buddhist Nio guardians that guarded the shrine until the Meiji Period.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Day 10 Kitsuki to Beppu

For me, one of the great joys of walking these pilgrimages is not so much the temples themselves, rather the unexpected thibgs seen and experienced in the spaces between the temples. Day 10 was a day that alternated between light rain and heavily overcast.

My route was south, overland from Kitsuki till I hit Beppu Bay at the old castle town of Hiji. Tgere was a pilgrimage temple here, but more interesting was a much larger temple that had a garden designed by the great Zen artist-monk Sesshu, who lived for a while in the area.

The temple is also home to what is classed as the biggest Cycad in Japan. A very ancient species of palm, I believe its related to the sago palm. The Sesshu garden was not in great condition.

From here it was a long walk around the curve of the bay, stopping at any shrines I passed, until I reached the famous host spring "resort" of Beppu, which to me looked more like some sort of dystopian industrial hellhole with all the charm of an Albanian oil refinery, though I suspect in the sunshine it wouldnt look so bad.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Keitakuen Garden

In Tennoji Park, tucked  behind the Municipal Museum of Art is Keitakuen garden.

A modern garden, built for the wealthy Sumitomo Family who constructed a mansion nearby.

The garden, a stroll type built around a large pond, was designed by Jihei Ogawa who also designed the garden at Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto.

It is surprisingly good, though obviously it helps if the weather is good. and only 150 yen for the entrance.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 23 Komyoin

Located against a cliff below one of the samurai districts in the old castle town of Kitsuki, just south of the Kunisaki Peninsula is Komyo-in, number 23 on the Shingon Kyushu Pilgrimage.

In 1645, Matsudaira Hideko was given control of the domain and he constructed a Kimon, a temple to guard the NE direction, and he chose Fudo Myo as the main deity.

In early Meiji the temple was destroyed in the anti-Buddhist movement, but the statue of Fudo Myo was transferred to this new location.

As well as the statue of Fudo in the main hall there are numerous other statues of Fudo around the grounds.

The Goma-do, the space for the Goma Ritual, is located inside a cave where another statue of Fudo plus 4 other Myo are enshrined.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Luminous River

I spent some time in Tokushima last December at the start of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage and so had the chance to see some of the illuminations.

Rather than the usual style of illuminations, Tokushima has been holding an LED Digital Art show at many sites around the city center. The biggest displays were executed by teamLab, an international arts cooperative. Luminous River, the biggest, was just a stones throw from my hotels so I got to see in many times.

More than 100 giant plastic white spheres floating on the river. Once the sun went down the spheres lit up in an everchanging sequence of colors acccmpanied by new age music piped from speakers along both banks.

The two bridges at either end already had permanent LED artwork installed on them, and on one of the bansk there was also many sculptural artworkd using lED's. Combined with all the normal illumination from the buildings it made for quite a sight....