Friday, July 26, 2019

Princess Ahiratsu

Ahiratsu Hime was the first wife of the mythical first emperor Jimmu. This statue is in the small port town of Aburatsu in Nichinan, southerm Miyazaki.

According to the myth, when Jimmu left to invade central Japan and claim rulership, Ahiratsu chose to stay here and not go with him, although she had already given birth to a son that would become the mythical second emperor. Sorting out genealogies in the Japanse myths is complex as the myths as they stand today have evolved from a mass of tales and genealogies of the powerful clans, but is seems she was Jimmu's aunt....... seems like several of Jimmu's ancestors had also married aunts.....

Ahiratsu Shrine which enshrines her has been here since ancient times though it had a Buddhist influenced name before Meiji. It is a modern, concrete construction with several smaller shrines within the grounds. It is said that in a small tomb nearby mirrors and jewels were found indicating and ancient ruler.

On either side of the main altar were groups of four, small Lions, something I hadn't seen before....

Monday, July 22, 2019

Isshiki Kazari Komainu

Isshiki Kazari is a unique form of folk art that origjnated in Hirata up in Izumo. The essence of the art is that sculptures are made out of everyday objects. Nothing too original in that, but its the further rules that make it so. The objects cannot be broken, drilled, nor glued. Afterwards the sculpture can be disaseembled and the objects returned to use.

Ceramics are the prime material, but not the only material for Isshiki Kazari. The sculptures were/are made as offerings for the local shrine, but nowadays as part of the matsuri they hold a competition to choose the best each year.

I was taken by these komainu in a tableau of the shrine. The competition entries are temporarily on display around the old part of town, although there are many other more permanent examples that are not part of the competition

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Sugimura Kanamono Honten

Some architecture I find intriguing, some not. It is not always clear to me why. This building I found intriguing.

It may be because it was different from the other buildings around it. Or it may have been something instrinsic.

It's not particularly old, being built in 1932. When I visited it a few years ago it was a hardware store that was still in business, though it seems to have closed now. It is located in Aburatsu, an old port town in Nichinan, Miyazaki.

I was there on the 24th day of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage, visiting a temple in the town.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Saidaiji Kannon-in

Saidaiji Kannon-in is a large historic temple to the East of Okayama City. It is the first temple on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, though I visited it on the second day of my walk along that pilgrimage as temple 2 is further East and it made logical sense.

When I visited it was very quiet, which it is for most of the year, but in late February it is filled with thousands  and thousands of near-naked men taking part in the famous Hadaka Festival, commonly known as the Naked Man Festival.

For more details about the festival and also about the legend associated with the temples founding, please see a piece I wrote on another site.

Some of the buildings, like the 17th Century Pagoda, and some of the statuary, like the large Kannon, are quite interesting, and the street leading to the temple from the nearest train station has a few old buildings, but outside of February things here are pretty quiet.....

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Yowara Shrine

In the mountains of Nichinan, Miyazaki, about 25 kilometers southwest of Udo Jingu, is the rather grand and elaborate shrine of Yowara Jinja.

Brightly painted in vermillion, with an impressive two storey gate that still houses 2 Buddhist Nio guardians, and an equally impressive Bell Tower, the shrine was founded in 1658 by a local man whose lover insisted on its construction.

It is, in essence, a branch of Udo Jingu and enshrines the same 6 main kami as Udo Jingu, Amaterasu, Ninigi, Hoori, etc.

I believe the architectural style is called Gongen Zukuri, gongen being Buddhist manifestations, and the style of architecture incorprates a shared roof over the worship hall and honden. Udo Jingu was itself a Buddhist institution until 1868, and many, many shrines still have Buddhist architecture and features.

Yowara Shrine is not well visitedm though it is now the tutelary shrine for the area so gets lots of visitirs at the New Year.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Odds & Sods, Bits & Pieces

The bulk of my posts from more than a couple of years ago no longer have photos as the site where I stored them has gone. Some of the older posts still get visited, so I am trying to replace the photos. Obviously this takes time, but if any of you particularly want me to do this for certain posts please let me know in the comments below.

Three posts that I have updated the photos to are:- one on Hidden Crosses, used by the hidden Christians during the Edo Period. The second is on Genbu Shrine in Kyoto. The third is from Hasso Daishi, a small temple along the route of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

I'm still publishing lots of guides and such over at, and a few you might be interested in are.......

The Tezen Museum ..... lots of mingei and crafts from the Izumo area...

Historic Preservation Districts ..... guide to many of the Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings....

Yuasa is one of thse districts that is also the reputed origin of Soy Sauce

Shitenno are the "Four Heavenly Kings".... martial deities that protect Buddhism

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Taketomi Island Water Buffalo

At several places around the Okinawan Islands you can ride in a cart drawn by Water Buffalo, but the most well known is I think the island of Taketomi.

The water buffalo was domesticated about 5,000 years ago in India and about 4,000 years ago in southern China, which is probably where Okinawa got them from.

Taketomi Island is quite small with just a few hundred inhabitants living in the one village of Taeketomi, a Histroical Preservation District of Historic Buildings with traditional streets of sand lined with stone walls.

Almost every house has a red tile roof, but that is a modern phenomenon that started in 1905 because traditionally commoners were not allowed tile roofs, rather they were thatched.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Nakiri Shrine. Another Cave Shrine

About a 15 minute walk along a path through the woods from Udo Jingu is a small cave with Nakiri Shrine within it.

It is not as impressive as he cave at Udo Jingu, but it is closer to the sea and you are likely to be the only visitor, and so is more atmospheric and even dramatic.

Next to the small shrine is a statue of Fudo Myo. In this case a Namikiro Fudo, a "wave-cutting" Fudo Myo who protects seafarers. In 1868 the cave stopped being a home to a Buddhist deity and became the "shinto" Nakiri Shrine. Can't find any info on which kami they enshrined here, thoufg there is a carving of a fish hanging from the shrine.

This is also what happened at Udo Uingu, which was established as, and existed as for more than a millenia, a Buddhist site, until 1868.

It is well worth the walk from Udo Jingu