Saturday, January 30, 2021

Shunkoji Temple Yatsushiro


After four days of following the Kumagawa River downstream, on day 44 of my walk around Kyushu I emerge from the mountains onto the estuary and coastal plain of Yatsushiro.

The city is still some miles distant, but its skyline is dominated by the multiple, belching smokestacks of the giant papermill. However, along the edge of the mountains are numerous shrines and temples and the first I visit is Shunkoji.

It is deserted, but not quite feeling abandoned, it was the family temple of the Matsui Clan who ruled over the area from their castle in Yatsushiro. Here are the tombs of Matsui Family.

There was little statuary, and the tombs were not appealing to me, however the Fall colors did attract me. Shunkoji is a Rinzai Zen temple.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Izumo Folkcrafts Museum (exterior)


For years I had driven past signs pointing to the Izumo Mingeikan, but it wasnt't until recently that I visited it, and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised.

It is housed on the property of the Yamamoto family, one of the wealthiest familes in the Izumo region in historical times.

The main house is still a residence and neither it nor the garden can be visited.

The museum is housed in twolarge warehouses-storehouses, one dedicated to historical pieces and the other to contemporary pieces. They also have a small shop with a good selection of books, crafts, etc.

Photos and info on the works on display will come later........

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Zuiganji Temple Tokushima


After visiting Taisanji, the first temple on the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, I headed down the mountain and returned to my room in Tokushima City. There was still some hours of daylight left so I went to the Tourist Information Office and asked about any good gardens for viewing the Fall colors.

They only had one to suggest, Zuiganji Temple at the base of Bizan Mountain. Founded in 1614 it is a Rinzai Zen temple though they say the garden is Momoyama-style.

I had visited Zuiganji many, many years ago on my first visit to Tokushima, and found the garden very lush and to my mind somewhat overgrown. At that time I had not learned to appreciate Japanese gardens as I do now.

Whether you appreciate Japanese gardens or not, Zuiganji is certaily worth a visit in November for the autumn coors.

Buy tatami direct from Japan

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Kikuya Residence Garden in Fall


The Kikuya Family were the wealthiest family in the castle town of Hagi. Though merchants were ostensibly almost the lowest class in the Edo Period social system, many became very wealthy and financed the upper samurai class and daimyos, as was the case here.

The Kikuya Residence is therefore a good example of a well preserved wealthy merchants property and so had nice gardens. I have posted on the residence and the garden earlier, but these shots are from a later visit I made in the Fall.

The gardens are meant to be enjoyed from inside the residence. After the mwiji Restoration the family constructed a newer, more modern residence next door and that had more expansive, stroll-type gardens.

I will post shots of the newer gardens later.....

Friday, January 22, 2021

Hiyoriyama Seacoast

The Hiyoriyama Seacoast is a stretch of scenic coastline in Toyooka in northern Hyogo around the mouth of the Maruyama River.

It is part of the UNESCO Global Geopark of San'n Kaigan that stretches from Tottori to Kyoto.

There are numerous sites in the Toyooka area included in the Geopark including the town and coastal area of Takeno.

It's a fairly scenic and dramatic stretch of coast, though to my mind we have better further west.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Kuromatsu Fishing Port


The fishing harbor of Kuromatsu is just outside the main village in a small, adjacent cove. It is not very large but fairly typical of the thousands of small fishiung harbours found along Jaoan's almost 30,000 kilometers of coastline.

Now "protected" by huge, concrete seawalls, there is actually less concrete than found at many.

I suspect the tiny boats on the beach are used to put out small nets, drop off pots, and maybe harvest shellfish and seaweed. The half a dozen larger boats are squid boats.

The very powerful lights are used to trick the squid into thinking its a full moon and time to head to the surface for mating.

Buy tatami direct from Japan

Monday, January 18, 2021

Fudo Myo at Myo-on-ji Temple


Myo-on-ji is temple number 15 on the miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage in Sasaguri, Fukuoka.

Only a few hours into walking the pilgrimage, it is clear that there are an amazing number of statues of Fudo Myo. Myo-on-ji is an uninhabited temple, like most on this pilgrimage, though a little larger than many that just consist of a single, small "hall"

Soeof the Fudo are small, and some much larger. Some are stone, some wood, some bronze. Some are well-crafted by skilled artisans, some are cruder and made by "folk".

From here we leave the urban part of Sasaguri and start to head up a small mountain road. From now the distance between temple will be a little greater.....

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Former Kyusendo Forest Museum


Overhanging the cliffs of the Kumagawa River, and on the opposite side of the road to the Kyusendo cave, this unusual structure used to house the Kyusendo Forest Museum.

Built in 1985, domes are rarely found in Japan, and it looks almost Middle-Eastern. It was still open when I was in the area, but I did not venture inside.

Like so many monumental buildings in rural Japan I suspect it never even came close to making any money and its upkeep would have been substantial.

Still,  the architect, construction companies, and most importantly, the concrete companies will have made a handsome profit.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ryuzugataki Dragon Head Falls


Ryuzugattaki Waterfalls are among the 100 top waterfalls of japan and are located in the mountains directly south of Izumo City.

There are two falls, side by side, with the larger being 40 metres tall and the smaller just 30 meters. They are considered male and female.

The falls are reached by a very pleasant footpath along a river with the final approach being up a wooden staircase through a grove of huge, ancient trees that you would normally encounter nowadays approaching a shrine.

Also of interest is the cave in the cliff behind the falls that can be entered. Here you will find an altar to Fudo Myo.

In the autumn when the leaves are changing color is especially good for a visit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Kyusendo the Biggest Cave in Kyushu


Kyusendo claims to be the biggest cave in Kyushu, being more than 4 kilometers in length. Only about 800 meters of it is open to the public.

It wasn't discovered until 1973. There is a small shrine and a Buddhist altar within the cave. It is also home to thousands of bats, though I didn't see any.

Though nowhere near as impressive as Akiyoshido, the biggest cavern in East Asia, it is more impressive than a few caves I have visited in Japan. Some people like caves, some don't.

It is located on the Kumagawa River in Kumamoto, about halfway between Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi.