Sunday, January 2, 2022

Miscellaneous Statues along the Hita Kaido

Statues along the Hita Kaido

One of the subjects I focus on finding as I walk the roads and lanes of Japan is sculptures. On my walk along the Hita Kaido, the old highway running East out of Kurume, I encountered a huge number of them  I've posted about the large number of Ebisu statues along the road. Ther were so may I did a second post. One town along the way had lots of Kappas, and of course, I recently posted a lot of Komainus.

This time I want to show you a selection of other statues from that day's walk that don't fit the other categories.

The top photo is of a small shrine that has a diverse collection of statues left by different parishioners over time. In this particular instance, all the statues are Buddhist, but very often they are a mix of Buddhist, Shi to, Daoist, secular, and occasionally, Christian statues.


Shrines tend to not have as many statues s temples. Earlier they would have had a lot of Buddhist staues but most were removed in the seperation of buddhas and kami. Other than komainu, I think the second most common category of shrine statues would be Zuijin. Usually nrightly ainted, but sometimes lain wood, Lafcadio Hearn says they were a shinto response to Buddhist Nio guardians, though many shrines had Nio, and in some places, like the Kunisaki Peninsula, they still do.

I have to admit I jave no idea who or what this pair represent......

You will sometimes find a white, wooden horse, usually inside a small structure. These derive, I thnk, from the ancient tradition of offering horses to shrines for rain, and probably, in my opinion, from an earlier time when animals were sacrificed. Some shrines have rather realistic, bronze statues of hotses, made in the modern period I believe. This stone horse was quite funky, and I am not sure of its purpose or meaning.

Finally, I came across this phallic statue. Once very widesread, now mostly extinct, though I do keep finding them, mostly in remote locations. Mostly fertility objects, but many were also for prayers to heal sexual ailments and diseases, and I recently came across a very popular shrine devoted to prayers for "sexual vigor".

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