Friday, December 29, 2023

Kashima Shrine Minabe


I came into Minabe at the end of a rainy fifth day of my walk. I was on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, claimed to be the oldest of the major pilgrimage circuits of Japan. For this first week, the route also followed the Kumano Kodo, though in reverse. This was the Kiiji section which runs from Tanabe up to Osaka and Kyoto.

The main shrine was a Kashima Shrine, with numerous secondary shrines and a small Inari shrine at the entrance.

According to te shrine history it is a branch of the famous Kashima Shrine up country, brought here in the early Nara Period.

However, it was located on a tiny uninhabited island just offshore and was known as Kashima Myojin.

During the Meiji Period, possibly 1909, the kami was transferred to the land and the shrine built, which explains the somewhat "meiji" feel of the shrine.

The main kami is Takemikazuchi, although Amaterasu and Susano are also listed. That may be a Meiji addition.

In the grounds are a Tenjin, Ebisu, another Inari, and a couple of other shrines.

The previous post in this series was Kozanji Temple in Tanabe.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Sasebo Port


Sasebo Port is mostly a new redevelopment that seamlessly integrates the port facilities with the number one Japanese pastime of shopping.

Several ferry terminals primarily service the Goto Islands but also a few of the smaller, closer islands, as well as offering port cruises.

The Japanese Navy, called the Marine Self Defence Force, has a presence as does the US Navy.

While travelling around Japan I sometimes meet people who try to speak English to me, presuming me to be a visitor. In Sasebo almost everyone I talked with spoke good English.... a byproduct of the US base I suspect.

I also had the best Mexican food I have ever had in Japan in Sasebo... another byproduct methinks

The previous post was on the Kujiraze Ferry Terminal.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Mimasaka Soja Shrine


Soja shrines were often established close to government headquarters in ancient Japan as one of the governor's duties was to offer prayers at all the shrines in his district.

For convenience, all the kami from the outlying shrines were gathered together in one place hence making the officials jobs much easier. Such was the case of this shrine in Tsuyama.

According to the shrine history, it was established first further to the west and enshrined Okuninushi. A year later when the Kokufu was established the shrine was moved here and the kami from all 65 village shrines in Mimasaka were brought here.

After the Kokufu became replaced by warrior rule the local warlords continued to support the shrine with grants of land.

The current main building was built by Motonari Mori in 1562 and it was extensively repaired in the mid 17th century.

The shrine is built in the Nakayama-zukuri style, unique to this area. In the early 20th century it was made a National Treasure but has since been downgraded to an Important Cultural Property.

The previous post in this series on the fifth day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage was on the nearby Nakayama Shrine, the ichinomiya of the province.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Kujiraze Ferry Terminal Sasebo


The Kujiraze Ferry Terminal is one of several new terminals at Sasebo Port in Nagasaki.

The main building is a two-storey brick-faced building, but attached to the end is this gleaming glass block.

Each of the floors is completely empty and so it seems just like mere decoration.

However, in the setting sun, it afforded me the opportunity for the kind of photographs I like to take.

The previous post in this series was the nearby Miura Catholic Church.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Down the Mito Peninsula


The Mito Peninsula extends out to the south of Shodoshima Island towards Shikoku.

In fact, the southern tip of the peninsula is, I believe, the closest point to Shikoku.

On Boxing Day (December 26th) 2015 I walked most of the way down the East coast of the peninsula.

Earlier that morning I had visited 6 temples of the Shodoshima Pilgrimage that all lay close to each other. Now I had a 2-hour walk to the next one.

Shikoku was clearly visible and one of the many car ferries passed by

Perhaps the strangest sight was a line of about 20 TV antennas along the side of the road. I suspect it was the only way to get a signal in the fishing village down below.

Across the Uchinomi Bay I can see the smaller peninsula I walked along 2 days ago on my first day when I visited the famous "24 Eyes" movie location and the theme park where a later remake was made.

The weather was glorious......

The previous post was on the cluster of temples I visited earlier.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Miura Catholic Church Sasebo


Miura Catholic Church is located on a hillside overlooking the port and train station of Sasebo in Nagasaki.

The parish was established in 1897 and the church was built in 1931. It is said to be in Gothic style and was built using reinforced concrete. In any other part of Japan it might be confused with a wedding "chapel" which are often also built in a simplified Gothic form, but in Nagasaki there are a lot of genuine Christian churches.

During the war it was painted black to stop it being an easy landmark for American bombers aiming for Sasebo.

The previous post was on Arcus Sasebo, seen below with the church in reflection.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Iriomote Island Beaches


As of this posting, we are "enjoying" an unusually early cold and snowy spell, so these images are for the rest of you in the northern hemisphere right now.

Iriomote is a fairly large island in the Ishigaki Islands, not far from the coast of Taiwan. In fact it is the second largest island in all of the Okinawas.

Most of the island is fairly dense jungle and mangrove swamp and is home to the Iriomote Wild Cat.

The island is sparsely populated and lives along the single coastal road that covers about 2/3 of the coastline.

Iriomote has a lot of fine beaches and coastline suitable for snorkelling.

It also has a fair amount of coastal mangrove groves.

The most famous beach is called Starsand Beach because among the sand you can find tiny star-shaped grains.

These pics were taken in April, well outside the tourist season and so mostly deserted.

The previous post was on the water buffalo carts of Yubu Island.