Sunday, March 31, 2019

Amakusa Dolphin Watching

For the last few days I have  been walking across the Amakusa Islands in Kumamoto. Today I joined a dolphin watching boat tour.

Several hundred Bottlenosed dolphins live in the straits of the Ariake Sea between the Shimabara Peninsula and the Amakusa Islands. There are a whole bunch of companies operating tours and as they 99 percent guarantee sightings I shelled out....

There was a chilly breeze and the water was choppy but we did get to spend about 20 minutes in the area where they were breaking the surface. I imagine on a calmer day they are more visible....

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hyuga Ichinomiya Tsuno Shrine

On the afternoon of my 20th day walking the Kyushu Pilgrimage  I passed under a large torii that straddled the road, and soon came into Tsuno Shrine, the Ichinomiya, that is to say, the highest ranked shrine in the former Hyuga Province, now Miyazaki Prefecture.

It was a very large shrine with extensive grounds, woods, and a koi and lily pond as well as numerous secondary shrines. What was surprising was the main kami enshrined here,.. Okuninushi. Being Hyuga one might have expected Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu sent from the High Plain of heaven to rule Japan, or his descendant Jimmu, the mythical first Emperor, but these kami only really became elevated in the Meiji period when they became an obsession with the nationalists trying to create a state-based "shinto".

I never did find out why Okuninushi, an Izumo kami, was the main one. There was a small shrine to Daikoku, one of the imported 7 Lucky Gods, who because his name is the same characters as Okuninushi are often equated together.

There were also plenty of heart-shaped ema because Okuninushiis now considered the god of enmusubi, especially finding a lover.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Uzume Mask

Uzume Mask

It has been a very long time since I finished any masks, but the last few weeks I have been hard at it. Most of my older blog posts that featured my masks no longer have photos as they were stored on a site I no longer use, so overthe next weeks I will be posting photos of my new masks.

This one is one of the smallest and is the kami Uzume, the female whose dance in front of the cave was instrumental in luring Amaterasu out. The dance is credited with being the mythological origin of kagura.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Our Hina Matsuri

Tomorrow, 3rd of March is Hina Matsuri and Yoko has set up her collection. She got them from her mother who got them from her mother, so they are about 100 years old.

The craftsmanship is unbelievable. even the drawers, about 1cm by .5cm, open and some contain even tinier objects. In one of the wooden container on the top shelf are wooden teacups 0.3 cms wide.