Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Sukyoji Temple Gardens

Sukyoji Temple Gardens

Sukyoji is a Rinzai Zen temple located in Izushi castle town and was founded in 1392.

The temple is often called Takuan Dera after the famous monk Takuan Soho who was born in Izushi in 1573. Later in life, he returned to Isushi and stayed at Sukyoji for 8 years. He was very influential in bringing a zen influence to various schools of swordsmanship.

He is credited with designing several of the gardens at Sukyoji, but is more famous for being the creator of the daikon pickles, takuan, named after him.

The temple has a Rock Garden, Crane & Turtle Garden, Moss Garden, and  Heart Pond Garden.

It is said that Takuan designed the Crane Turtle garden and the Shinjioike Garden ( pond in the shape of the Chinese character for heart)

In the photo above the building behind the Shinjioike is the Toenken, the hermitage where Takuan stayed for 8 years and where he is said to have created his namesake pickle.

The Crane & Turtle Garden by Takuan Soho is a National Important Cultutral property.

The rock garden viewed from inside the temple.

Later I will post more on the temple and takuan Soho.

These last three images were taken on my second visit, in the winter.

The previous post in the series is the Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hiso Natural Arch

Hiso Natural Arch

Hiso Domon translates literally as the "cave gate of Hiso", but in English we would call it a natural arch.

It was the kind of sight I was hoping to discover on my walk of exploration along the coastline of the Japan Sea, and this was my third day.

The tiny settlement of Hiso is now considered part of Yunotsu and is the first settlement reached after taking the narrow coast road out of the back of Yunotu and Okidomari, the World Heritage silver mine port.

The road to Hiso passes a small Omoto Shrine that has no buildings at all....

And a small, roadside, Buddhist altar......

Hiso itself is very small, although a largish house has been renovated and modernized and is available as an upmarket guesthouse.

There is a small beach and a very small harbour protected by small stone barrier walls with a handful of small boats pulled up onto the beach. Surprisingly there are  no concrete structures in the harbour

The previous post in the series is Kushijima.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Fudo Myo at Kannonji Temple


Waraji, traditional straw sandals, are left as offerings to s statue of Fudo Myoo at Kanniji Temple on the Sasaguri pilgrimage in Fukuoka. They are left as prayers for health feet and for safety on journeys.

Kurikara, the sword held by Fudo Myoo, is often represented with a dragon wrapped around it.

The Fudo Myo statues found at Kannonji were all quite small, and carved, quite crudely, in stone.

The previous post in the series is Nomiyama Kannonji Temple.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Nomiyama Kannonji Temple 16 Sasaguri Pilgrimage


Nomiyama Kannonji is one of the biggest and also one of the highest of the 88 temples on the Sasaguri pilgrimage in Fukuoka. The temples are scattered in the mountains on either side of the valley through which runs the main road, Route 201, and the JR Fukuhokuyutaka Line.

The biggest temple is probably Nanzoin, home of the largest reclining Buddha, and the highest temple is the okunoin on top of Mount Wakasugi. Nomiyama Kannoji is at about 450 meters above sea level, but is the temple furthest away from the bottom of the valley.

It has several sub-temples and is served by a massive car park, so obviously many people venture up here with the temple website claiming about a million visitors a year.

The honzon is, not surprisingly considering the temple name, a Senju Kannon, a "thousand-armed" Kannon. It is hidden from view except for one day a year, on October 3rd, one of three major festivals held every year. photo number 2 above is a Senju Kannon in the Hundred Kannon Hall.

There is also an Amida Hall, pictured above.

There are several shrines within the grounds, an Inari, pictured above, and a Tenjin and an Awashima.

As well as within the different halls, there are numerous statues of many different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas scattered around the grounds. In fact, one of the main features of the pilgrimage is the sheer number of statues on display. We arrived here in the early afternoon of our first day walking the pilgrimage, and we had seen hundreds and hundreds of very diverse statues.

The previous post in the series is Mizuko Temple Monju-in. Next, I will post pics of the Fudo Myo statues from Kannonji.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Taiyuji Temple 6 Kinki Fudo Myo Pilgrimage


Taiyuji Temple, number 6 on the Kinki Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, is a large complex in downtown Umeda close to Osaka Station.

It is said to have been founded in 821 by Kobo Daishi himself with Emperor Saga donating a statue of Senju Kannon which is now the honzon. The temple was burned to the ground during the Siege of Osaka in 1615 and then once again at the end of WWII. Most of the current buildings date to 1986.

There are numerous statues and shrines scattered throughout the grounds. It is said that in the Meiji period, the  Freedom & Political Rights Movement was established here before spreading around the country.

The Okunoin of the temple is a small cave enshrining a Fudo Myo statue.

The much larger Fudo housed in the Ichigando is the focus of the Fudo Pilgrimage

A statue of young Kobo Daishi. The Kuzan Hakkai Garden is a rock and gravel garden with unusual stepping stones covering 200 tsubo.

I was visiting on the second day of my walk along the Kinki Fudo Myo pilgrimage. The previous post in this series is the nearby Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Takahara to Takijirioji on the Nakahechi

Takahara to Takijirioji on the Nakahechi

Takahara is a small mountain village in the mountains of Wakayama and on one of the Kumano Kodo routes.

Since being registered as  World Heritage Site, the Kumano Kodo has become very, very popular, and Takahara is now home to a bunch of guest houses and cafes.

Life-size "scarecrow" type dolls greet the walkers as they enter the village.

I was walking west, so from Takahara the trail drops down to Takijiri Oji, the shrine that is considered the starting point of the Nakahechi Trail, and met quite a few walkers heading uphill with rooms booked in Takahara.

I was going in the opposite direction because I was walking the Saigoku pilgrimage that starts at Nachi. This was coming to the end of my 4th day of walking.

Across from Takijiri Oji Shrine is a Kumano Kodo Information Centre, and around the shrine are several stores selling pilgrim supplies.....

The previous post in the Saigoku series is Takahara Kumano Shrine

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Kankakei Gorge East Trail

Kankakei Gorge East Trail

Kankakei Gorge East Trail.

Kankakei Gorge on Shodoshima Island is a major scenic spot of the island and included in the top 100 scenic spots of Japan. It is particularly popular in the autumn when it is a blaze of colors.


Formed by 2 million years of erosion, Kankakei, which means "cold mist valley", is home to a dramatic landscape of cliffs, spires, and strangely shaped rock formations. It is commonly viewed from the ropeway which runs for almost a kilometer and climbs about 300 meters to the top.


There are two trails for those who wish to explore the gorge, the West, or Front Trail, and the East, or Back Trail. The latter is about 3k in length and starts from the bus stop very near Hotogegataki, the 20th temple on the Shodoshima pilgrimage.

Old tree on Shodoshima.

About halfway up the trail you pass underneath a huge natural arch or bridge where you can visit Sekimondo Temple, number 18 on the pilgrimage, and like Hotogegataki, a curious cave temple.

View out to sea.

Many of the rock formations you see on the way have names, with the one below looking very much like the coffee pot rock formation near Sedona in Arizona.


As you climb the views become more and more expansive as you get closer to what is not only the highest point on the island but also the highest point in the Seto Inland Sea.


I first visited on the second day of my walk along the Shodoshima pilgrimage. The previous post in the series is Sekimondo Temple 18.