Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kuroshio Town Ogata Library

One of the delights of wandering the backwaters of Japan, for me at least, is stumbling upon huge pieces of modern architecture, often quite surreal, which would not look out of place in a big city, but are found in the most rural, depopulated areas.

The number of small towns and villages which are home to massive auditoriums, museums, etc is quite staggering, and most date their inception and funding back to the tail end of the bubble era. Vanity projects for architects, and a cash cow for the ubiquitous concrete and construction industries, the funding for their construction came from the central government, however their maintenance and upkeep fell to the local communities, and many, like the Ogata Library featured here  down near Shimanto in Shikoku have now been closed.

Prince Charles may call these structures carbuncles, and the local people may not think much of them, but for my style of photography they are great. I've been here twice but unfortunately both times were really overcast....

It was built in 1998 and designed by Dan Norihiko,  a relatively young architect. He's younger than me so that makes him young.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Asami Shrine Revisited

A pair of huge trees flank the entrance to Asami Shrine in Beppu. I posted on the shrine many years ago.

It is the main shrine for the town and enshrines Hachiman.

I was heading out of town to continue my walk around Kyushu.

It was early in the morning on a sunny day..... the golden hour for photographers....

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple 33 Sekkeiji

Sekkeiji, the 33rd temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage was fairly unimpressive. That may be due to it being the end of a long day when I finally reached it.

Though reputedly founded by Kukai, it became a Zen temple and not long after was sponsored by Chosokabe, the warlord who burned down so many of the temples on Shikoku. It became his family temple and was where he was buried.

Perhaps fittingly, it was burned down in the early Meiji period in the anti-Buddhist wave that swept many parts of the country. It was eventually rebuilt at its current site, next door to its original site which is now a shrine.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Day 11 Beppu to Oita

This is somewhat how I felt on the morning of my eleventh day of walking around Kyushu. After 2 days of miserable, grey, drizzly weather, the sky was clear and blue. The statue is of Kumahachi Aburaya, the entrepeneur who put Beppu on the tourist map and was to a large extent responsible for modern Japanese tourism....

Heading south out of Beppu I took lots of shots of the colorful manhole covers of the town before stopping in at the big Hachiman Shrine with its pair of giant cedars.

After heading down the coast I cut inland to get to Yusuhara Hachimangu, the major shrine of the area and home to a set of fantatsic carvings adorning the main gate,... from there downhill all the way into the outskirts of Oita City.

At Funai castle ruins I caught this married couple having their wedding photos taken among the cherry blossoms. Nearby was an older building designed by Oita native Arata Isozaki that now contains a small museum of his models and drawing which was a real delight.

I then headed to the hills to te south of the city center where there were some older temples, shrines, & Buddhist carvings.....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 25 Kongochoji

This was a very difficult place to find. Located in the middle of a dense grid of narrow streets, none of which were named. It didnt help that it was tiny and not really any different from its neighboring houses.

The giant lantern in the yard was the clue that finally helped. There was no-one home and no signboard.

Apparently it is also on the Beppu Saigoku 33 Kannon pilgrimage. Like Beppu itself it was very unmemorable.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tamatsukuri Fertility Shrine

One of the things I am on the lookout for while I wander the back roads of rural Japan are fertility shrines. Many of them, like this one in Tamatsukuri, Izumo, are not signed, not on maps, and not associated with priests.

The Izumo area has quite a lot of them, though of course tourists don't visit them like they do a couple of the famous ones up in the big cities.

This one had quite a few small, hand-carved Phallii, as well as a few stones representing the female......

This large one was enclosed in a small structure and seems to be the main object. There was also an altar put up by a gentleman in celebration of reaching 100 years of age.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sho'okuji Temple Hiji Oita

Sho'okuji is a large Soto Zen temple in the castle town of Hiji on Beppu bay in Oita. It isnt one of the Kyushu Pilgrimage temples ( which are all Shingon) but I wanted to stop by to see the Sesshu garden there. During the Edo Period it was the family temple of the Kinoshita Clan who ruled the domain.

The Manyu garden has a massive pond, and it is said that Sesshu, who lived nearby for many years, possibly had a hand in its design.

In front of the main hall is the biggest Cycad in all of Japan. Said to be 650 years old it was originally in the garden of Otomo Sorin, the famous Christian Daimyo who lived further south in Funai and Usuki. The palm trees trunk measures 4 and a half meters around.

Behind the main buildings is what I came to see, a garden attributed to Sesshu, my favorite garden designer. It was a grey, rainy day which didnt help. Sesshu lived in the area to avoid the Onin War. In the temples treasure house are some paintings attributed to him.

This rather nice Senju Kannon was in another of the temples halls.

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