Thursday, January 30, 2020

Meet the Neighbours

The noise of my neighbours in the forest behind my house yesterday has prompted me to post some photos of some of them. earlier posts have lost their photos and it is too much trouble to have to go through and edit and repost.

Many of my neighbours, members of my community, are not human. There is a big troop of monkeys that visit regularly. It has been entertaining to watch them and learn a little of their habits and behaviours, but their tendency to treat my garden as a supermarket does tee me off sometimes.

Tanuki are also very commonly seen, these were photoed right outside my living room. They are fairly shy and cause no damage to my life. Often I will also see badgers, foxes, and civets passing through by my house on their rounds.

Several species of frog and toad are welcome visitors. In the garden they eat bugs, and they in turn are eaten by snakes and birds. When tilling I will often disturb ones hibernating in the cold weather. When the rice paddies are flooded in late spring the noise of their calling reverberates within our narrow, steep valley and can be quite deafening.

Mostly living below the house, though regularly found running around inside, are giant centipedes. They are quite poisonous so I will usually kill them at the request of my wife. Usually traveling in mated pairs, when one has been caught it is best to be extra vigilant until its partner is found.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Masks of Ishigaki Island

Masks of Ishigaki

Ishigaki is a small island that is part of what is now Okinawa, though it is much closer to Taiwan than to the main island of Okinawa.

The Ishigaki Shiritsu Yaeyama Museum is a local history museum that had some masks among the displays, and masks are objects I seek out when traveling around Japan.

I know little about Okinawan masks, but it looks like these three are some form of ogre.

I believe the second photo show Angama masks which are worn during Obon. The bottom photo is a Shishi.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Buy Handmade Masks From Japan

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kagoshima Cathedral

I did post on this topic many years ago, but as my older posts no longer have photos I thought I would post a revised version. Located in downtown Kagoshima, the cathedral was built in 1999 to celebrate the 450 year anniversary of the arrival in Kagoshima of Francis Xavier in 1549

A church was built here in 1909 but was destroyed during WWII. A new church was built in 1949 to celebrate the 400th anniversary. Some stones from this church were used to build a memorial to St. Francis Xavier located across the street from the cathedral.

The exterior is quite striking, but the interior is sublime, being flooded with colored light from the stained glass windows. It also has a nice pipe organ, something quite rare in Japan.

It is a catholic church, but all are welcome for services on Sundays. For the rest of the week the church is open to visitors with no entry fee.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kitsuki Sunrise

For the 4th day of my walk around the Kunisaki Peninsula in northern Kyushu, I spent all day exploring the castle town of Kitsuki. I spent the night on the south bank of the Yasaka River, and the castle and town were on the north bank, so early in the morning I headed across the bridge at the mouth of the river.

The view out to sea was where the sun had recently risen. I believe it is technically part of Beppu Bay, though it also falls within the boundaries of the Inland Sea. I have a fondness for early morning shots because where I have been living for the past 16 years or so is in a steep, narrow valley so I only get to see the sun in the middle part of the day.

When I lived on top of the world I was able to see the sunrise for a lot more than 300 days a year, and this is probably why I have a penchant for sleeping out on mountaintops here in Japan.

On this particular morning it was quite cloudy, but shafts of golden light were clearly visible......

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Seiko Medical Beauty Clinic

Near the waterfront in downtown Kagoshima I came across this rather futuristic-looking building.

It houses a plastic surgery clinic and I can find no information about the architect.

EDIT:.... thanks to a kind and observant reader I have been told the architect was Yuji Nakahara.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

On top of Mount Kannomine

Mount Kannomine, 425 meters above the sea on Osaki Kamijima in the Inland Sea, is the highest poinbt on the island and where I chose to spend the night on the second day of my walk along the Akinada chain of islands. This link will take you to the other posts from  that walk and the views of sunset from Kannomine.

As well as an observation point that offers stunning views across the Inland Sea, there are two, small religious sites, a Shinti shrine and a Buddhist temple. The shrine is a branch of Ishizuchi Shrine, the famous shrine on top of Mount Ishizuchi, the highest point on Shikoku, and a center for yamabushi and tengu.

Like the shrine, the small temple was also a concrete structure, and it was a Yakushi-do. It had a nice. small Fudo Myo, but the big surprise was a wooden phallus.

Other than a couple of famous sites and shrines in some of the big cities, phalli are far less common than they used to be and it is always a joy to find them in remote spots like this.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Daikanji, 45th Temple of the Kyushu Pilgrimage

Daikanji is a small, urban temple, number 45 on the 108 temple Kyushu Pilgrimage which I visited on the 30th day of my walk. It is a concrete structure elevated to make plenty of car parking space below it.

Unusually, on this pilgrimage at least, there was someone home when I visited. The priest immediately took me in front of a giant statue of Kannon next to a smaller one of Fudo Myo and offered prayers for my safety on the pilgrimage.

he then took me upstairs into the main hall and gave me tea and fruit. Osettai, the tradition of giving gifts to pilgrims that is well established on Shikoku, is less common elsewhere. Here on Kyushu it was usually priests who gave gifts.

There were several other Fudo statues among the many in the main hall and in other rooms....

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Across the Tatara Bridge

By lunchtime of my second day walking along the Shimanami Kaido that connects Honshu with Shikoku via six islands it was time to cross over from Ikuchijima to Omishima using the Tatara Bridge.

Considered by most to be the most elegant of all the bridges on the route, it was, when built, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, but has since been superceded by a couple of bridges in China.

The two towers are 220 meters tall, and the central span between them is 890 meters.

For cyclists and pedestrians, there are fairly steep approaches to get up to the bridge.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Ando's Inamori Auditorium in Kagoshima

While I was in Kagoshima I took the opportunity to visit the Inamori Auditorium on the campus of Kagoshima University. It was built in 1994 and was designed by famed architect Tadao Ando.

It's not one of his better known works, but does feature some of his trademarks, most obviously the use of undecorated concrete. However its main feature is a huge concrete egg that partially protrudes through the glass facade.

I would have liked to explore the interior space but the building was all locked up. Generally people either love or hate Ando's work. I like it.

I like the geometric division of space, the use of light and shade as well as reflection. I find his structures great for exploring and discovering.......

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Into Isotake


Early on the 3rd day of my walk along the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage I reached the coastal village of Isotake. Looking inland I could see Mount Sanbe where I had spent the night of my first days walk.

Isotake is named after Isotakeru, a son of Susano, said to be brother to the sun goddess Amaterasu. There are of course numerous versions of the ancient myths, but round here the story is that Susano and Isotakeru arrived in Japan from the Korean Peninsula at this spot. At the far end of the village is a  fishing port with a shrine whose records tell this story.

A common sight all over rural Japan are collapsing buildings. Once a traditional building is abandoned it doesn't take long for nature to begin the recycling process.

The narrow road through the village was formerly the Sanin-do, the main road that extended all the way from Kyoto. The village has now been bypassed by Route 9, a modern road. Soon it too will be superseded by a 2 lane expressway a little inland carried on tall concrete pillar and through lengthy tunnels.