Friday, December 30, 2022




Just a couple of hundred metres from a Hachiman Shrine adjacent to the Nanagi Fudoson Temple was the entrance to a much larger Hachiman shrine, Chirikuhachimangu. The torii, entrance gate, is in Hizen style, Hizen being the name of the former province that made Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. Also visible is the pair of Kadomatsu, the new years' decorations with bamboo centres.


A ceremony was underway when I arrived so I walked around quietly. It was Jan 5th, so not sure what ceremony it was.


The ornamentation on tye roof is now purely decorative. The cross-pieces are called chigi. If the ends are cut vertically, like here, it indicates that the main kami enshrined is male. A horizontal cut indicates female kami. The horizontal "log" pieces are called katsuogi. Both were used in early Japanese architecture to help weigh down the thatched roof.


This pair of komainu was somewhat unusual, with long, almost cylindrical bodies, not unlike others I had seen further south in Kumamoto.


Looking back from the shrine over Nagatoishi, with Kurume across the other side of the river. The shrine is in Saga, but Nagatoishi, which used to be mostly rice-paddies 50 years ago, is part of Fukuoka. The river mostly forms the boundary between the two prefectures, but the actual boundary is far more serpentine with horseshoe bends crossing over to each side of the river so that  sections of the opposite banks belong to the other  prefecture , suggesting that the river has been straightened quite dramatically in recent times.;


There are quite a few large camphor trees and numerous sub- shrines within the grounds. Hachiman shrines are the most common shrines in Japan nowadays but originally it was a north Kyushu cult that later spread to Nara and then Kyoto, then becoming so widespread after being adopted by the samurai. This shrine, however, is said to be one of a half dozen or so major hachiman shrines in north Kyushu that pre-date its national adoption.


I am curious as to the reason for the stance the horse statue is taking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Nanagi Jizoson

Nanagi Jizoson


Not far from Dainichi-Ji I came upon a small temple with many visitors even though it was early in the morning. Apparently, yesterday was major festival day.

Shrine in Japan.

The temple is named after a Jizo carving, a relief carving rather than a full 3D statue. It is dated to the late 14th century and is the main "draw" of the temple.

Nanagi Jizoson.

It is said the carving used to be held at 2 temples said to be linked to the Heike Clan.

Nanagi Jizoson.

I was most intrigued by one altar filled with a massive array of different characters, most religious, but a few secular.

Torii gate.

Immediately adjacent to the temple was a mall Hachiman Shrine built on the site of where a temple once stood.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sunrise wallk to Dainichi-ji Temple 94 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Sunday January 5th 2014. Day 56 of my walk around  Kyushu on the Kyushu Pilgrimage. This will be the last day where I base myself in Kurume, an interesting town that I had never heard of before coming here but which has been my home away from home as I have explored the region.

As I am walking across the bridge to Nagatoishi on the north side of the river the sun comes up behind me.

 I find the first temple, Dainichi-ji, easily enough and it is yet another structure indistinguishable from a house. The ground floor is two open car parking spaces, the second containing some statues and the entrance to the stairs that I presume lead up to the “main hall”.

It was founded in 1985 and at that time was surrounded by rice paddies, though now it has become a suburb of Kurume. In 2010 it became temple 94 on the pilgrimage.

The honzon is Dainichi Nyorai, and there is also a Dainichi statue outside in the entrance area. Inside is said to be a Yakushi, Kobo Daishi, Fudo, and numerous other statues alongside the Dainichi.

There is no reason why a temple must conform to a pre-determined idea of what a temple should look like, but it is disappointing nonetheless. It is also a little too early in the morning to ring the bell and go in so I pay my respects to the statues at the entrance and head off.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Red Cliff Sekiheki

Red Cliff Sekiheki

Red Cliff Sekiheki.

Sekiheki is a large, colourful cliff almost 1k long on the south coast of Chiburi Island, Chiburijima.

Red Cliff Sekiheki.

Chiburijima is the southernmost, smallest, and least-popu lated of the 4 inhabited islands of the group of islands known as Oki off the coast of Shomane.

Japan image.

The Oki Islands are part of the Daisen-Oki National Park, and since 2013 have also been a UNESCO Global Geopark.

Jake Davies photo.

Geoparks tend to focus on the geology of a place and also tend to have a lot of signage and information boards explaining what you can see.

Jake Davies photo.

Sekiheki is a great spot to see the result of various volcanic activities 6 million years ago. The Oki islands themselves are a sunken caldera.

Jake Davies photo.

The sections of cliff that are red were formed from magma with a high concentration of iron-oxide.

Jake Davies photo.

The Oki Islands are one of my favorite three places in Japan and other posts from them can be found by clicking this link.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Wakayama Castle

Wakayama Castle

Though not as well known as many, Wakayama Castle was considered very important by the Tokugawa Shogunate and in the early twentieth century was classified in the top three hilltop castles of japan

A smaller castle stood nearby, built by the Saiga Ikki, one of the many religious groups that maintained armed independence during the Warring States period. It was attacked first by Oda Nobunaga and then later by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Construction of Wakayama Castle began in 1585 by Hideyoshi's younger brother, Hidenaga.

It was greatly improved by the Asano Clan who had been given the domain following the Battle of Sekigahara. He built the three-storey keep connected by corridors to three Yagura turrets.

Control of the castle passed to Tokugawa Ieyasu's son, Yorinobu, and he expanded the castle further.

The keep was burnt down by a fire caused by a lightning strike in 1846, but was rebuilt a few years later. In 1871 the castle was abandoned, but unlike most castles in Japan at that time it  was not dismantled.

Most of the buildings were destroyed by American bombing during WWII but have been reconstructed since then.

Japan Goods

Monday, December 19, 2022

Disappeared Japan Yukaen Chinese Garden


Yukaen was a Chinese-style garden in Hiroshima.

It was built in 1992 to celebrate the sister-city relationship between Hiroshima and Chongging City in Chima.

When I visited almost twenty years ago the plum blossoms were blooming.

It was located on the banks of the Ota River not too far from Hiroshima Castle.

However, a few weeks ago as I was taking a bus out of Hiroshima I noticed the garden had gone and the whole area was a big construction site.

I have been unable to find out what is being built, or if the garden will be reconstructed here or elsewhere.

I have never encountered any other visitor when I have visited and reports suggest that in recent years the garden had become quite shabby and rundown.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Zenkakuji Temple


Tucked up a narrow opening in the steep side of the Gonokawa River valley just downstream from its mouth, Zenkakuji does not look like a temple, which explains why I passed it many times before ever venturing in to look.

It was founded in the 1950's by a man in one of the many Buddhist sects that sprang uin the postwar period as a reaction to the decadence of the mainstream sects.

The spot was chosen because of a small waterfall, a perfect spot for shugyo, ascetic training.

Water is often associated with dragons and serpents in Japan, and many times I have heard stories of the red rocks such as those found here being linked to dragons blood

There are, of course, several statues of Fudo Myo around the spot where adherents stand under the falling water.

I think the founder had passed away before I moved to the area, but his wife carried on living at the temple. However I am sure she has passsed away since then.

When I stopped in on this walk there was a friendly, young man sweeping the paths the main building was open and I was able to go inside for the first time. As I would have expected it was quite low-key. The place is obviously still being used, but I just noticed that googlemaps has stopped labelling it as a temple.