Showing posts with label camphor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camphor. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Tozenji Temple 74 on the Kyushu pilgrimage


Tozenji Temple, number 74 on the Shingon Kyushu pilgrimage, is in Nakazatacho, a rural community north of Sasebo in Nagasaki.

On the previous day's walk I visited temple 66, also called Tozenji, to the east of Sasebo.

The temple was established here in 968, but its origin can be said to lie almost three hundred years earlier in tye very early 8th century when the famous mink Gyoki visited the area and carved a statue of yakushi Nyorai.

That statue was enshrined on top of the mountain in what is now the temples Okunoin and the statue is the honzon of the temple.

I visited very early in the morning and there was no one about so I didn't go inside and see the statue.

The temple grounds are dominated by a huge Camphor tree.

Thought to be 600 years old, this ancient tree has a trunk circumference of 8 meters and is twenty meters high.

The previous post was about the first temple I visited on this, the 67th day of my walk, Korin-in.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Higashikawanobori Kifune Shrine


Kawanobori is the last settlement along the old Nagasaki Kaido in Takeo before it comes into Ureshino. In Higashikawanobori I was surprised to find a Kifune Shrine, a branch of the famous Kifune Shrine in the mountains north of Kyoto. Banners were raised telling that a matsuri was in session.

Kifune Shrine enshrines Tamayorihime, the mother of mythical emperor Jimmu, and is said to be a kami of water and rain, so it was not surprising that this Kifune Shrine backs onto the river rather than up against the mountainside like most shrines.

Architecturally it was almost identical to the previous shrine, Uchida Tenmangu,  with a pavillion-style main hall and also a large sacred Camphor tree. The ceiling of the main hall also was covered in small paintings.

The original Kifune Shrine near Kyoto is famous for two things. One is that it is considered the origin of ema, the votive plaques found at most shrines and some temples. According to the story, the Emperor used to donate a horse for sacrifice to the shrine, a white horse to pray for rain to stop, and a black horse to make rain. Later a painting of a horse was used, and these became what are now ema.

The other things strongly associated with Kifune Shrine is in many senses a kind of Japanese voodoo called Ushi no Toki Mairi which involves nailing a straw figure to a tree at the shrine. The story has complex roots but is mostly known through the Noh play Kanawa.

While I was visiting a ceremony was taking place. The men taking part were dressed in everyday work clothes so I suspect it was some kind of Spring agricultural ritual.

The previous post was on Uchida Tenmangu.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Uchida Tenmangu


Mid February, and the plum trees lining the approach to Uchida Tenmangu are about to burst into bloom. Tenmangu shrines often have plum trees as they were a favorite topic for ancient Japanese poets and scholars like Sugawara Michizane who is enshrined here.

The bamboo attached to the torii would have been fresh when put up for the new year. The torii are Hizen-style as this is still within what used to be Hizen. Uchida is a small settlement in between Takeo and Ureshino in Saga.

I am heading up the Rokkaku River along National Route 34 which roughly follows the old Nagasaki Kaido.

There is no info on the shrine, although there are a lot of Tenmangu shrines in this part of Kyushu. There is a massive old camphor tree that suggests that the shrine has been here for some centuries.. although the pavilion-style main building has been recently rebuilt. Its ceiling is covered in small square paintings, but its too dark to get a good photo.

I'm on day 58 of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage, though I am making quite a detour in order to visit a site that will be closing down in a few weeks....

The previous post was the nearby Otsubo Quarry.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Tokei Shrine Tanabe World Heritage Site

Tokei Shrine Tanabe World Heritage Site

Tokei Shrine is the main shrine of Tanabe, Wakayama, known as the gateway to the Kumano Kodo.

In 2016 the shrine was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, most commonly known as Kumano Kodo.

The shrine grounds are home to many ancient Camphor trees with the oldest estimated to be 1200 years old.

The famed warrior-monk Benkei, known primarily as the sidekick of Yoshitsune, was born in Tanabe and a statue in the shrine depicts him with his father and some chickens.

According to the story, Benkei's father was asked for support from both sides of the conflict known as the Genpei War between the Taira and Minamoto clans. Unable to decide, he staged a series of cock fights between cocks with red and white feathers, representing each side of the conflict. The cocks with white feathers won and so he chose to support the Minamoto.

According to the shrine, it was founded in the 5th century, which seems very speculative to me, however the shrine rose to prominence in the 11th century as a branch of the Kumano Sanzan shrines. Pilgrims would pray here for a safe journey into the interior, and in some cases, because the pilgrimage route was at times heavily traveled by bandits and robbers, pilgrims would go no further and "worship from afar" here.

Tokei Shrine enshrines all the kami that are enshrined in the Kumano Sanzan, the three big shrines of Hongu, Shingu, and Nachi, that are the focus of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, which is why there are so many hondens.

There are also a wide variety of sub-shrines scattered throughout the grounds. many festivals take place throughout the year including the massive  Tanabe Matsuri held in July and also a Benkei Festival.

I arrived here at the end of my 4th day walking the Saigoku Pilgrimage. The previous post in the series was Takahara to Takajirioji on the Nakahechi.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Path of Light at KitanoTenmangu Kurume


A long, straight road leads to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine near Kurume, and is known as the "path of light" as in mid-March and mid-October the sun sets at the end of the road. This is obviously close to the equinoxes.....

The shrine was established in 1054 as a branch of the Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto, the original shrine deifying the angry ghost of Michizane Sugawara.

A giant Camphor tree in the grounds is said to be over a thousand years old.

Most striking is that the impressive gatehouse is painted red. Yesterday I posted on some of the guardians here.

The area is well known for Kappa and there is s story of a kappa and Michizane. The mummified hand of the kappa is shown to the public once a year.

Tenmangu shrines are very popular with students praying for success with exams, but are also known for calligraphy.

There are often statues of an Ox at Tenmangu shrines as it became a symbol after an ox carrying the corpse of Sugawara Michizane stopped and refused to move further and so that was the spot he was buried, now Dazaifu Tenmangu a little further north in Fukuoka.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Matsubase Shrine


Matsubase is a small town in Kumamoto that I reached in the afternoon of my 45th day walking around Kyushu. Matsubase Shrine is the main shrine in the centre of town.

Known through most of history as Matsubase Gongen, the shrine now enshrines Izanami, Hayatamao, and Kotosakano.

The gingko trees and a few maple were nice with their color, but the most impressive tree was a giant camphor tree said to be over 800 years old. Camphor trees seem to be the sacred tree of choice at shrines in Kyushu.

Not far from the shrine was the next building in the Kumamoto Artpolis project for me to check out......