Saturday, July 31, 2021

Kongoji Temple 58 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


My last stop on day49 of my first walk around Kyushu was Kongoji. temple number 58 on the Kyushu Pilgriage, which I have recently read claims to be the longest pilgrimage in Japan.

After the somewhat bizarre architecture of the previous temple, Naritasan Taishoji, it was somewhat of a relief to see a failr standard, urban temple, located in "downtown" Arao.

I could find no date for the temple, though it belongs to the Koyasan Shingon sect, and the honzon is a Dainichi Nyorai.

On the approach to the temple there are 88 memorial stones set in the grounds, and underneath each one is small amount of dirt collected at each of the 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. They ahve also done the same with then 33 temples of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

I Didn't venture inside, but apparentky they have some kind of "Peace Flame" that was lit with fames from a temple in China and a temple in India.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dragons and Fudo at Ariake naritasan Taishoji


There wasn't a lot of statuary, nor greenery, at Taishoji, but I ws taken by the double dragons at the temizuya.

Fudo Myo is the hinzon of the temple, but the one in the main hall is hidden. However, outside were two statues, the second seeming quite feminine to my eye.

Finally a look at the unusual architecture of the triangular main hall.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Ariake Naritasan Taishoji Temple 101 Kyushu Pilgrimage


As I approached the 101st temple of the Kyushu pilgrimage I was not sure I was at the right place as it really didn(t look like a temple at all. To my untrained eye it looked quite Chinese and possible SE Asian in design. The whole place, except for a small Daishi-do, was made out of concrete, which is actually not that unusual.

It's a branch of the famous Naritasan temple up in Chiba and like the mother temple, Fudo Myo is the honzon. I&s not a very old temple, but seems to be very popular judging by the size of the car park.

In the car park was a "chapel" devoted to blessings for vehicles and drivers, which leads me to believe a focus of the temple, and a reason for its popularity, is on Genze Riyaku, which translates roughy as "this-worldly benefits".

That is to say a focus on services for attracting health, wealth, success, and protection against any kind of misfortune.. Though Buddhism in Japan is said to be funerary-based, and "shinto" is said to be nature based, both religions focus a lot on genze riyaku.

Visiting was a somewhat strange experience.

The main hall of the temple is triangular in shape, the first time I can ever recollect seeing such a shape in temple buildings.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Greenland Amusement Park


For several hours while heading for the next temple on the pilgrimage, I seemed to be heading directly for some kind of multi-colored tower. Turns out the temple is adjacent to a huge amusement park.

The "tower" I was seeing was in fact a huge Ferris wheel seen edge-on. At 105 meters tall its not the tallest in Japan, but close. Greenland Amusement Park claims ro be the biggest amusement park in West Japan, but I think that must exclude kansai.

It has numerous rollercoasters including one of the longest in Japan. I think the name should probably be Green Land, ratherb than the name of the north atlantic island. There seems to be no theme to the park though a couple of attractions relate to Egypt.

It is a full resort with a golf course for the grown-ups and a large hotel complex. Its a bit out of the way with little public transport and is located in the foothills near Arao, Kumamoto.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Nobara Hachimangu


The Hachiman shrine in Nobara near Arao in Kumamoto is a fairly typical local shrine, though the entrnce gate is larger than most. The banners suggest that a matsuri has recently, or will soon, be held.

I previously posted about the two pairs of komainu I found here, There was a pretty big tree in the grounds, but otherwise not much else to see. However, I read that there are several small burial mounds within the grounds.

Since arriving in Japan I have read continually that "shinto" considers death very taboo and will have nothing to do with it, leaving such things to the Buddhists to deal with, however, in Izumo, here in Kyushu, and also on Shikoku I have come across shrines built on top of or in close proximity to ancient burial mounds/

The shrine was founded about 1,000 years ago at the end of the Heian Period. Hachiman shrines are the most common village shrines in Japan. The Hachiman cult was originally based in northern Kyushu, and did spread in Kyushu in ancient times.

However, it was when Hachiman was taken up to Nara to protect the new "national" temple of Todaiji, that it began to spread more widely. When an oracle proclaimed that the true identity of Hachiman was in fact Emperor Ojin, the cult became much more powerful.

Some hachoman shrines claim to be derived from the original in Usa, Oita, but apparently two thirds of Hachiman shrines in Japan claim to be derived from Iwashimizu Shrine south of Kyoto and not directly from Usa.Not all Hachimans are equal it seems. There is no mention of the origin of this particular Hachiman shrine, though I do know of Hachiman shrines in Kyushu that went all the way up to Iwashimizu to bring back the "divided spirit" from that shrine rather than get it from the much closer Usa hachman.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins


Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins is the title of this installation by the art collective Teamlab at Mifuneyama in Saga, Kyushu.

Mifuneyama is a park and hotel near Takeo Onsen, and each year Teamlab put on a series of installations, some indoors, but mostly outdoors throughout the patk.

The interior pieces can be viewed by visitors during the daytime, but most people will visit in the evening.

The installations mostly consist of computer controlled lights, sounds, and projections. While the technology is certainly state-of-the-art I do find Teamlabs stuff to be somewhat retro and 70's-ish

The original bath house for the hotel is no longer operational, but for the artwork they fill the pools up with water.

I visited in the winter of 2019 while walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, but I read today that the exhibition, called A Forest Where Gods Live: Ruins & Heritage, is open again from now until November.

I have posted earlier about another Teamlab installation I saw in Tokushima called Luminous River.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Komainu at Nobarahachimangu


Nobarahachimangu was a relatively small shrine on the outskirts of Arao that I stopped in at on day 49 of my first Kyushu walk.

It had a relatively large entrance gate that housed two rather nice wooden komainu.

Along the approachway were also two stone komainu, the female of  the pair was depicted with a pup.

I'll show pics of the shrine itself next....

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple


The pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple in Tamana, Kumamoto, is one of only two 5-storey pagodas in Kyushu made exclusively out of wood.

It stands 35 meters high and was completed in 1997 after ten yars of construction.

It is made out of Aomori Hiba, a kind of cypress, and is favored for shrine and pagoda construction because of its resistance to insects and humidity.

The pagoda is primarily a Chinese piece of architecture, but in Japan it was modified by having the roofs extend out much further to stop the excessive rainfall of Japan from undermining the foundations.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Rengein Tanjoji Temple


Rengein Tanjoji Temple is a very large and relatively new temple in Tamana that I discovered by accident while walking the Kyushu Pilgrimage. I previously posted on the large gate housing the biggest Shitenno statues in Japan.

After passing through the gate a long, lantern-lined promenade leads to a statue of the founder and the main buildings. In 1930 the priest Zeshin Kawahara was instructed in a vision by Saint Koen to rebuild the temple that had previously stood on this spot. The first building was completed in 1937.

Saint Koen, who is enshrined here, was born on this spot in the late 11th century. He went on to become a monk and rose to be abbot of the great Tendai complex on Mount Hie. His most famous disciple was Honen, the founder of the Pure Land sect.

The original temple was built under orders of Shigemori Taira in the 12th century but was destroyed at the end of the 16th century. The new temple has grown with a 5 storied pagoda being built in 1997 and more recently a Tahoto pagoda.

Later an Okunoin was constructed a few miles away in the mountains. It is also a large complex with impressive buildings and also houses what is said to be the biggest bronze bell in Japan. It is part of the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage that I walked a few years ago. Rengein Tanjoji Temple is the head temple in Kyushu of the Shingon Risshu sect.