Monday, August 30, 2021

A room with a view at Nameshi Dam

 


Early evening on the 2nd may, 2017, and I arrived at the place I would spend the night. A wide roof with a wooden bench overlooking the small reservoir behind Nameshi Dam on the Togo River near the centre of the Kunisaki Peninsula.


I havent used a tent in more than 30 years, preferring to sleep under the stars when possible, and in a bivvy sack if its wet. Here I had toilets nearby and drinks vending machines. There is a small shop but it has never been open whenever I was here. There is a replica waterwheel, many cheery trees that have passed theor blossom by date, and a small house used as a vacation rental I believe.


I had slept out here about four and a half years previously in November 2012. Then I was at the end of my first day of a 5 day walk across and around the Kunisaki Peninsula and I had started the day at the famous Usa Hachiman Shrine, and I was exploring sites along the anciet Hachiman-Tendai Shugendo pilgrimage route. Photos of the sunset that day are here



On the next day of that trip, I carried on east up along the river and then over the centre of the peninsula and on to the coast. On this trip, I will be heading over the dam and into the mountains and be following, to a large extent, the Kunisakihanto Minemichi Long Trail which closely follows the old pilgrimage route. I'm actually on the first day of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, but as the first clister of temples are all here on the Kunisaki Peninsua I decided to visit them by useing the Minemichi trail.


It has been an excellent day and as the next days route is largely along mountain trails rather than roads I am excited. Here are links to the sights of my first day.

Taizoji                 Demons Stairway                 Not the Village of Dolls                 Treasures of Makiodo

            More Kunisaki Cliff Carvings                                             Tachibu Motomiya Hachimansha 

Fuki-Ji Temple                             Yama Shrine                                 Umi Shrine



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Kyushu Geibunkan by Kengo Kuma

 

I had passed by this building several times on the train and was determined to visit it to explore when my walk took me through this section of the country.


Called the Kyushu Geibunkan, it is a kind of "culture center" and it is located slap bang in the middle of a rural area with only small towns and villages in the area . It is also located adjacent to a Shinkansen station that also seems anomalous,  and just a few hundred meters from Komyoji Temple that I had just visited as part of the Kyushu Pilgrimage.


In some climates, Japan in particular, the main focus of buildings is the roof. So it is here at the Geibunkan, though it actually has dozens of roofs, and not a single one is rectangular. Lots of triangles and trapezoids all joined together higgeldy-piggeldy, with some of the roofs almost touching the ground.


Though the front of the building seems somewhat simple and monolithic, the exterior is far more fragmented and disjoined which I suspect makes for some interesting interior spaces. I must admit I regret not having gone inside or explored the rear more.


As well as the wide range of intersecting and connecting shapes the building also uses a variety of different materials and textures which adds to the interest.


The building was designed by Kengo Kuma and opened in 2013. I have visited several of his buildings before but I believe this is the first time I have posted on this blog. My opinion of him worsened after his campaign against the winning design for the Olympic Stadium, which I liked, and having it replaced with his own design.


In the park around the building are a couple of annexes, asodesigned by Kengo Kuma which will get their own posts soon....

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Itohara Residence

 


The Itohara were a family of high-ranking samurai who served the Matsue Domain. They moved into the Okuizumo area in the Chugoku Mountains in what is now Shimane in the early 17th century. They have occupied the site of their current home since the end of the 18th century.


The Itohara were one of a group of samurai families that controlled the production of iron in the region.


The current residence was built in the early 20th century but was built in a traditional style. The family still lives in the house so it is not open to the public, but the garden is and so the interior of the house can be glimpsed.


The home has 40 rooms and covers more than 16,000 square meters, so here you can literally see just glimpses.


The main formal garden is viewable from many rooms, and I posted pictures of it before.


Adjacent to the house is the Itohara Memorial Museum that has many displays about the historical production of iron, but also family heirlooms like weapons, armour, tea ceremony utensils, clothing etc.

The closest station is Yokota on the JR Kisuki Line, accessible using the Orochi Tourist Train.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Akiraokisan Komyo-ji Temple 59 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage

 


After visiting Miyama Tenmangu I continued on north and in a little while the fog burned off completely to reveal a brilliant blue sky. I crossed the Yabe River and came to the next temple on the pilgrimage, Komyoji, number 59.


Though the area was primarily flat and consisted mostly of rice paddies and fields, the small temple was completely enveloped within a modern housing estate. The gate was firly modern but the Nio inside were not.


They were behind glass which made them hard to photographu, but seemed to be well made. They date back to the Kamakura Period ( 1185 - 1333 ). The temple itself is said to have been founded in the early 8th century and is said tobe the oldest temple in the region.


The temples records claim it was founded by Gyoki, who also carved the horizon, a Senju Kannon. Gyoki was an historical figure and a few things are known about him, but, like Kobo Daishi, is said to have founded hundreds of temples and carved hundreds of statues in almost every corner of the country.


There is a miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage within one courtyard with the 88 statues and "sand" from each temple.


There is a shrine within the grounds, and 2 stone, 9-layer pagodas, one of which was given by Taira no Shigemori, eldest son of Taira Kiyomori, in 1175.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Meiseki-ji Temple 43 Shikoku Pilgrimage

 


Located on a hillside in Seiyo, southern Ehime Prefecture, Meiseki-ji is a pleasant enough temple complex, but strangely unmemorable.


While many of the pilgrimage temples claim Kobo Daishi as their founder in the 9th century, quite a few are attributed to Gyoki a century or more earlier. but Meiseki claims to have been founded in the 6th century.


Since then it has gone through numerous destructions and rebuilding. The current buildings mostly date from late Meiji P
eriod.


There is a nice pair of large sugi trees linked with a shimenawa named as "Married Sugi", but otherwise very little in the way of statuary.


The temple belongs to the Tendai sect and the honzon is a senju Kannon.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Miyama Tenmangu

 


Miyama is a small rural settlement in the southern part of Fukuoka Prefecture that used to be called Chikugo. I passed through while walking north on the 50th day of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage.


The local shrine, a Tenmangu, was shrouded in mist. The small Zuijinmon, guardian gate, housed a pair of brightly colored wooden komainu.


As well as a pair of Zuijin, the shinto guardians that Lafcadio Hearn suggested were a Shinto response to  Nio guardians.


Set among a grove of old trees, there are also a pair of stone Komainu. I can find no dates for the shrine, but was probably just a local ujigami shrine until Tenjin was later "installed". I know in my own area of Tenjin, and other national kami,  being installed in local shrines in the early twentieth century to save them from being closed.


Unusually the taiko drum was hung outside the building. Most small shrines will have a single taiko, often in very poor condition, still inside the main building.


I've saved what I think is the best photo for last. Within the shrine grounds there was a Buddhist statue still remaining.


Monday, August 16, 2021

North into Fukuoka

 


Fog or mist? Not sure myself of the exact difference between the two, but I would say it was quite foggy as I left Arao and started walking north into Chikugo, the old province name of what is now the southern part of Fukoka Prefecture.


It's December 22nd and the 50th day of my first walk around the island of Kyushu.


For the first few hours along the way I stop in at each shrine I pass by. The fog seems persistent today.


I am following the old route that headed north out of Kumamoto and into a large river and coastal plain. The train line and shinkansen line and an expressway roughly follow the same route, but its a fairly rural area, as far as I can see with the fog, and the traffic is not too bad.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

It has stopped raining, but........

 

I was woken by a knock at the door just after 5 this morning. It was two old guys from the emergency services telling me that the village would be cut off by floodwater later in the morning and did I have enough food. When I took these pics an hour ago the water was still rising.


The rain had been pretty heavy for a few days, but the problem was the much heavier rain that has been inundating Hiroshima. Some of that is what floods our local river, the Gonokawa. Upstream of us is the Hamahara Dam, and like 70 percent of dams in japan it cannot release water until it is full. This means we never get a slow rise of water, rather a sudden rise.


Route 261, the main road that runs along the river closed yesterday upstream and downstream from us so Yoko could not get home last night and had to spend the night at work in Gotsu. This flooding and road closing seems to be becoming more frequent.


Our little village is protected from the river by a huge embankment. However, when the river rises they close gates to stop the river from backing up into the village and so all the rain that is coming down off the mountains that surround the village on three sides cannot empty into the river and so backs up.


I used to have a garden down by the river, and it used to flood every two or three years. The last one, 4 years ago put the garden under at least 20 feet of water and devastated it so I gave up on it. My other garden, in the village, the 3rd photo, is now flooded. Not sure how much damage it will cause..... depends how quickly the water goes down....

Our house is several meters higher than the garden and we would be one of the last houses to be flooded were the water to rise much further. My worry is it is next to a steep mountain, part of which is planted in sugi, so a flood is much less likely than a landslide.

The water may rise a few more inches, but I am assured, by those who are releasing the water from the dam,  that it will start going down soon

Friday, August 13, 2021

Yakumo Honjin

 


Yakumo Honjin is the name given to this large, traditional residence located in settlement  Shinji, located about halfway between Matsue City and Izumo City on the southern shore of Lake Shinji.


It was formerly the residence of the wealthy Kowata Family who had been here since the eary 16th cetury and were major landowners and also involved in commercial activities.


Located on the San-in-do, the major highway that ran through the region, the residence was used as a honjin, a place where lords and high-ranking officials could spend the night while traveling. Another honjin was in Hirata on the north side of the lake.


The main building dates back to 1733, however the properry is now huge as several other Edo Period buildings that belonged to high-ranking vassals of the lord in Matsue have been reassembled here.


One room has been left as it was when the Crown Prince stopped here for lunch while toring in the Taisho Period. The carpet, table, decirations etc are original.


On display throught the property are artworks and artifacts, some of which I will post later. The property also has a fine Izumo-style garden which I will also post later.