Monday, June 27, 2022

Sennenji Temple the Nikko of Kyushu


Sennenji is a Jodo sect temple located in Kusano, a former post town on the Hita Kaido east of Kurume.

It is said the temple was founded in 1233 and the Amida statues is an Important Cultural property.

It has a nice gate, and the main hall is unusually painted in vermillion, but otherwise not particularly noteworthy.

However, several sources say that it was known as the Nikko of Kyushu, or the Toshogu of Kyushu. The Toshogu in Nikko is the famous shrine/mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and is known for its colorful and intricate carvings.

Supposedly the interior of the main hall here is covered in murals and the ceiling has a fine dragon painting, but I have yet to see a photo from the interior and can find no reports of anyone ever having been inside...

A modern, secondary building did have a small carving on it.....

It is also said that the famous garden designer Kobori Enshu designed the garden, but again there was no way to access it to see.....

Literally across the road is a large shrine which though unpainted, does have a lot of carvings, so maybe that is what the reference is to....

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Hatsumode at Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine

Japan Guide

January 2nd, 2014, I arrived back in Kurume to continue with my pilgrimage around Kyushu after having took a break to go home and visit my wife for a few days. On my way to the hotel I stoed in at a small, urban shrine, all decked out for the new year.

Kurume Sosha Hiyoshi Shrine is a branch of the Sanno shrine at the base of Mount Hie. It was originaly located in the castle but was relocated to this spot when the castle was rebuilt.

Hatsumode is the modern tradition of visiting a shrine or temple in the first days of the new year to pray for good fortune for the coming year, and I would guess that most Japanese take part nowadays with the most popular shirn receiving millions of visitors.

In the Edo period most peole did not do this. Some eole in the capital, Edo, started viiting shrines to the Seven Lucky Gods, and it is probably from this that Hatsumode grew with thencreation of a "national" religion and culture in the Meiji period.

Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine has multiple sub-shrines in the grounds, and not surprisingly an Ebisu Shrine was verry popular. The cult of Ebisu is strong in the area.

What was surprising was a buddhist shrine in the grounds, to what appears to be Fudo Myo, and that would have been removed during the Meiji period. There was also an Inari shrine, another very popuar cult.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Recent Manhole Art


Japan is quite famous for the variety of brightly colored and diverse designs of its manhole and drain covers. I used to regularly post on the hundreds of designs I have encountered in western Japan, but those posts have never been popular with my readers. However, on my recent post-pandemic excursions I have come across some new ones......this first one depicts Ganryuji Falls, a picturesque waterfall not far from me

Just got back from a trip to Hiroshima, and noticed a new design that commemorats the Saigoku Kaido, the Edo period highway that ran through Hiroshima on its way from Kyoto to Shimonoseki, and that is almost identical to the Sanindo, the ancient imperial highway.

Yoshinogari is a huge archeological site with reconstructed buildings near Saga. Touted as the home of the legendary Himiko, "queen of japan",  in all probability it wasn't.

Also in northern Kyushu is the city of Tagawa, and one of their designs feature the cities official flower, the azalea.

However, while historical and natural features and sites are common, increasingly manhole cover design is shifting to manga, anima, and computer game-derived designs, no doubt with "sponsorship" from said companies.

These two designs are from Saga and feature Zombie Land Saga, an anime about an "idol" group of schoolgirl zombies formed to promote and regenerate Saga. The designs feature zombie schoolgirls with Saga icons, the top one being a statue of Naomasa Nabeshima, Daimyo of Saga, and the lower one featuring the famous Saga International Balloon Festival

Another series of designs in Saga features characters from the computer game Romancing SaGa. As far as I can figure there is no connection with Saga itself, rather than the name.

Yura, a coastal village in Tottori , is the hometown of the author of the Detective Conan  originally a manga character but also now anime. Tottortori airport has been renamed Conan Airport, and some trains have been repainted inside and out featuring Conan characters

However, all over Japan are appearing manhole covers featuring pokemon. There are hundreds of them, each one unique. This one is in Kaike Onsen, a seaside hot spring resort in western Tottori. I must admit I know nothing about pokemon except it is very popular. I believe these manholes are a feature of the pokemon go smartphone game
A few other posts with colorful designs can be found here....

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Gotsu Honmachi

Gotsu Honmachi

Gotsu Honmachi is the original town of Gotsu. In the latter half of the 20th century, embankments on the banks of the river mouth were constructed and seawalls erected, so the town spread to where it is now located.

Sheltered in a narrow valley and protected by a hill, the original town was on the Sanindo, the imperial highway that ran from Kyoto. At the top of the valley, a section of stone paving marks the original Sanindo route.

With its sheltered location, Gotsu became a Kitamaebune port, the next one west of Yunotsu, and some evidence of this merchant history still remains in what could be called the historical district.

The old clinic and doctors' house is one of the most well-known buildings in the old town, mainly because of its ochre-colored roof tiles rather than the traditional black or red.

I've seen a photo from 1917 that shows a bridge across the river at this point, probably the first Gotsu bridge, that must have replaced a ferry. The port was so important that it was incorporated into Iwami Ginzan, and controlled directly by the shogunate, whereas the rest of the land on this side of the river was Hamada domain.

Built in the Meiji period, the original Gotsu post office was a pseudo-western structure.

Built in 1926, the original Gotsu Town Hall..... used as such until 1962

Green Tea

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Dragon Guardians of Yakumo Shrine

Japan Guide

Rather than Komainu, Lion-Dogs, Yakumo Shrine in downtown Izumo City is guarded by a pair of what appear to be dragons.

Yakumo Shrine is a branch of Susa Shrine, dedicated to Susano and with many branches across Japan. This one was established in the Meiji period and is locaed between the main train station and city hall.

The shrine did have standard komainu guardian statues, but they were replaced quite recently with the current ones. Though appearing to be dragons, the sword held in the tail of one suggests they're meant to be Orochi, the 8-headed serpent of Susano fame...

To fill out this post here are some more shots from the area around the shrine....

Friday, June 10, 2022

Horinji Revisited


Horinji is temple number 9 on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage and is unusually situated within a walled compound among rice paddies.

Originally located about 4k north of its current position, it was destroyed by the warlord Chosokabe towards the end of the 16th century and rebuilt in its current location a few decades later.

Unusually the honzon is a reclining Buddha, the only reclining Buddha honzon on the pilgrimage, and it is only shown to the public every 5 years.

The current buildings date from the early Meiji period following a fire that destroyed everything except the belfry in 1859

This was my second visit to Horinji, the first when I walked the 88 temple pilgrimage, and this time when I was walking the Shikoku Fudo Myoo pilgrimage.

The route coincided with the ohenro route for the first day and a half, but after Horinji I headed west upstream towards the next Fudo temple.

Green Tea

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Izushi Samurai Mansion


Called Izushi Karo yashiki on the tourist maps, this is the only remaining samurai residence in the former castle town of Izushi in northern Hyogo.

Located close to where the castle stood, the area where the highest-ranked samurai resided, it is now open as a museum displaying artifacts connected to the ruling clan of Izushi.

Though it looks like a single storey structure, it actually has a low second floor, a much remarked upon feature in the explanations about the house.

It is located next to the town tourist information office, and close to the castle ruins and the main street, so gets a lot of visitors.

It very much looks and feels like a museum rather than a residence, and architecturally it is nothing noteworthy, but its worth a visit for the displays....