Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Taikoiwa Fudoson Magaibutsu


The Taikoiwa Fudoson Magaibutsu is a massive cliff-carving of  Fudo Myo carved into a cliff face more than 400 meters above sea level on Mount Kurokami in Saga between Takeo and Arita.

The views down over rural Saga are stupendous.

Mount Kurokami was a center of Shugendo mountain worship since ancient times, though the carving was not made until 1948.

It is about 7 meters tall and at its base is a huge circular mirror.

Cliff carvings are rare in Japan, but the vast majority that do exist are found in nearby Oita.

The Kunisaki peninsula in Oita has many magaibutsu including the Kumano Mgaibutsu which includes another large Fudo. Further south around Usuki are some of the most exquisite magaibutsu in Japan.

The previous post was on the small temple just below the Fudoson.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Oni no Shitaburui Gorge


Oni no Shitaburui Gorge is a narrow gorge in the remote Chugoku mountains in the Okuizumo region of Shimane.

The Omaki River has cut the boulder-strewn gorge over millions of years as it heads downstream to join the Hii River.

For 2 kilometers a boardwalk allows visitors, including those  wheelchairs and baby strollers, to explore the views of this scenic gorge.

There are also other trails for those who want a slightly more rugged hike.

Many of the rock formations seen along the way have names, like Crying Demon, Cows Neck, Whale Rock.

Ancient myths tell of a beautiful princess who lived here and of a crocodile who fell in love with her. Attempting to woo her the crocodile headed up the river and the fearful princess filled the gorge with rocks to stop the crocodile's progress. In some versions told nowadays the crocodile has been changed into a shark.

As the valley widens the trail climbs up to the pedestrian suspension bridge 45 meters above the water from where great views can be head over the surrounding mountains as well as down the valley.

Near the parking lot at the bridge is a small cafe serving local specialties like boar-meat croquettes. From here there is a bus down to the nearest stations. Another parking lot is at the to end of the gorge.

It is possible to reach the gorge from the  Itohara Estate, about 1k from the middle section of the gorge.

The previous post in this series exploring Okuizumo was on the garden at the Sakurai Manor.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Taikoiwa Fudoji Temple


Fudo-ji is a small temple with a solitary building at about 400 meters above sea level on Mount Kurokami near Takeo and Arita in Saga.

I presume it is/was a sub-temple of  Saikomitsu-ji a little higher up the mountain that was a major Shugendo center in historical times.

Sometimes called Taikoiwa Fudoji, Taikoiwa is a rock outcropping above the temple. Such rock formations were attractive to yamabushi, Tendoiwa being one on top of the mountain with a shrine connected to a myth about a giant serpent.

On Taikoiwa is a carving of Fudo Myo and a path lined with statues leads from Fudoji up to the carving.

There was to be a big ceremony at the nearby Saikomitsu Temple the next day, so that is why many of the statues had fresh cut flowers.

Fudo-ji is nowadays an unmanned temple. Like many rural temples, the priest has gotten too old and no-one has replaced him.

Whereas major temples receive a hefty tax-free income from tourism, and urban temples can rely on the very lucrative funeral market, so many rural temples are now abandoned and often demolished.

Next up we will look at the magaibutsu, cliff carving, of Fudo.

In the previous post I showed some of the many Fudo Myo statues around the temple and along the path.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Enmeiji Temple 54 Shikoku Ohenro


The Mountain Gate into Enmeiji Temple near Imabari in Ehime was relocated here from Imabari Castle when it was dismantled in early Meiji.

The Nio Gate before the mountain gate contains a fine pair of Nio.

The temple used to be located higher up on Mount Chikamiyama and was relocated to its current location in 1727 following the last of many fires that had repeatedly burned down the temple

The honzon of the temple is a Fudo Myo, and it is known as a Fire Fighting Fudo because it survived the many fires unscathed.

The temple was founded by Gyoki in 720 and he carved the Fudo statue.

As was often the case, Kobo Daishi visited a century later and rebuilt and expanded the temple.

In its heyday, it had many buildings and 100 monks.

It was named Fudoin Enmyoji, and this caused many problems because the previous temple, number 53, was also called Enmyoji, so in Meiji it was renamed Enmeiji.

A Mizuko Jizo statue in the grounds is very popular. The temple has no lodgings, but does have a large shop selling pilgrim supplies.

The previous temple is Enmyoji, number 53, 37 kilometers away in Matsuyama.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Fudo Myo at Fudo-ji Temple


At more than 400 meters above sea level, Fudoji is a small Shingon temple close to the top of Mount Kurokami near Takeo in Saga.

A few hundred meters down the road  below Saikomitsu Temple, once a major Shugendo center and I am guessing Fudoji was/is a sub temple connected to Saikomitsu.

As would be expected there are numerous Fudo Myo statues around the temple and along a path that leads further up the mountain.

What it leads to, a giant cliff carving of Fudo, I will cover later.

There were also numerous other statues, and these too I will cover in the next post.

Saikomitsu was having a ceremony the next day which explains all the fresh flowers with the statues.

The previous post was.Saikomitsu Temple.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Kurokamizan Saikomitsu Temple 69 Kyushu pilgrimage


Mount Kurokami is a more than 450-meter high mountain between Takeo and Arita in Saga that has been a site of mountain worship since ancient times.

Just below the peak is Saikomitsu Temple, and from it steps lead up to Kurokami Shrine connected to the defeat of a giant serpent.

The temple is very small now and normally unmanned but the day I visited was the day before a ceremony was to be held and so a cleaner was busy preparing.

Before Kobo Daishi left from nearby Hirado on his journey to China he climbed the mountain and prayed for a safe journey. On his return in 806 he came back to the mountain and carved a small Fudo Myo statue and established the temple.

The temple became very important and in its heyday had 80 temples under its control and was a major Shugendo site.

However, in 1878 a major fire burned down almost all the structures and it was decided to move the temple to Sasebo.

The Kobo Daishi Fudo statue, said to be carved using his fingernails, is now the honzon of .Daishi-in Temple in Sasebo. which I had visited a few days earlier.

The honzon of the current Saikomitsu temple is a Yakushi, an Amida, and a Kannon, all hidden.

There are numerous statues around the small building including several Fudo's. They all had plenty of fresh-cut flowers obviously getting ready for the next day.

However, the best was yet to come as a little further down the mountain was another small statue and an enormous Fudo Myo carved into the cliff face......

The previous post in this series on my first Kyushu pilgrimage was a .Brief Guide to Arita.