Showing posts with label cave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cave. Show all posts

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Tsurugake Kannon Saifukuji Temple 76 Kyushu pilgrimage


Saifukuji Temple, number 76 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage, is located on a mountainside overlooking the Sasa River north of Sasebo, Nagasaki.

The road up to the temple was a long gentle slope, for which I was grateful. The biggest building was a very large, modern house, I'm guessing the priest's residence.

A small main hall had a statue of Kobo Daishi standing outside it.

There were rows of Mizuko Jizo lining the approach.

The most interesting thing was the okunoin of the temple, a cave in the cliff behind the main hall.

It is said that the cave had been used by yamabushi, mountain ascetics, since the Heian Period.

It is actually not really a cave anymore as the ceiling has collapsed, leaving a stone bridge, or arch.

There were many small altars within the okunoin, and, not surprisingly,  a predominance of Fudo statues.

The temple itself is actually not so old, being founded in the late Meiji Period, but its origins go back a bit further.

At the end of the 16th century was the Warring States Period was coming to a close, a battle took place here between two rival clans.

In the late 18th century the Hirado Lord laced 5 statues on the mountain, including a Kannon, as a prayer memorial to the samurai who had died. Over time the statues were forgotten and buried by landslides.

In 1894, a local man, a devout worshipper of Kannon, became mortally ill and had a vision showing where the statues were buried. His family dug in the spot and found the statues, including the Eleven-Faced Kannon which is the honzon of Saifukuji. The man was miraculously healed and the Kannon has become famous ever since.

The previous post was on the Sechibaru Coal Mine Museum at the foot of the mountain.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Hotogekataki Cave Temple on Shodoshima


Located at the base of a towering cliff in the lower Kankakei Gorge on Shodoshima Island, Hotogekataki is temple number 20 on the Shodoshima 88 temple pilgrimage, a smaller copy of the famous, and nearby, Shikoku pilgrimage.

The temizuya where visitors purify their mouths and hands is not a typical basin, but rather a spring-fed pool of milky-blue water watched over by a statue of Fudo Myoo.

However the usual dragon was also there.

There is a small, concrete, Daishi Hall and a bell tower, also concrete, but the main hall of the temple is a cave, something that is not unusual on this pilgrimage.

The entrance to the cave is quite small and flanked by small atars and statues. The interior is surprisingly roomy with a natural central pillar.

The honzon of the temple is a yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. Most surprising was a woodstove with a chimney through the solid rock. An old lady was on duty and she gave me some oranges as osettai, gifts or alms for pilgrims.

This was my second day walking this pilgrimage and the previous temple was high above, Kiyotakisan, was another cave temple, and actually the highest temple on the route.

Hotogekataki has breat views out across the lower part of the Kankakei Gorge, one of the three top gorges in Japan. Though it was Christmas day there was still plenty of autumn color around as Shodoshima has a very mild climate.

From here I once again start to climb, the next temple, also a cave temple is about halfway up the gorge....

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Iwayaji Temple 45 on the Shikoku Ohenro


Iwayaji, temple 44 on the Ohenro pilgrimage in Shikoku, is located among towering cliffs and spires of rock high in the mountains of Kumakogen in Ehime.

The surroundings are what I would consider a  classic shugendo environment, and any similar -looking places I have ever seen have all been yamabushi sites. I subscribe to the theory that much of the Shikoku pilgrimage is based on a series of Yamabushi training areas that became linked.

When I met a young priest I commented to him how jealous I was of the location of his home, clinging to the base of the cliff with great views down and across the mountainous countryside.

According to the story, when Kobo Daishi visited here he found a female hermit already living here. He carved two statues of Fudo Myo, one is the honzon in the main hall, and the other is enshrined higher up the mountain in the Okunoin. Because of the snow I decided against climbing up to the Okunoin.

A fire destroyed all the main buildings in 1898. The Kokuzodo, a small structure below the main shrine on the path up, and the Niomon, a little distance from the main temple at an older entrance, both survived and date back to the 18th century.

The current main hall was built in 1927, and is unusually smaller than the Daishido which was built in 1920. The Daishido is registered as an Important Cultural Property because it applarently incorporates numerous western elements into its traditional temple architecture.

There are numerous caves in the area that were used by the ascetics. A ladder leads up to one with a wooden platform where a small structure, the Hokke Sennindo, used to be. From here the views are remarkable.

Below the main hall is an entrance into a narrow 10 metre deep cave with an altar and several statues.

Next up some photos of the Fudo Myo statues and carvings here.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple.

Above the main gate into Kiyotakisan Temple on Shodoshima is this unusual carving of a cat. I have been unable to find the story behind it.

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple.

Alongside the steps leading up to the gate are statues, and after entering you pass a large altar with a statue of Kobo Daishi above. The 88 temple pilgrimage on Shodoshima is dedicated to Kobo Daishi and is a small version of the famous pilgrimage on nearby Shikoku. Kiyotakisan is number 14.


Kiyotakisan Temple is a little more than  450 meters above sea level and is the highest of all the temples on the pilgrimage. The views, consequently, are stunning


There are a huge number of statues scattered around the nooks and crannies of the area around the temple, including numerous Fudo Myo statues, not surprising as this was a site for yamabushi training.

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple.

It can take a while to find all the side trails that lead to overhangs and crevices where even more statues abound.


For the adventurous, there are chains to be used to help climb the really steep sections.

Kiyotakisan Magnificent Cave Temple.

The main hall enshrining a "hidden" Jizo leads into a cave at the base of a towering cliff.

Jake Davies image.

Another cave houses a Fudo and this is where the Goma fire rituals are held. Unfortunately when I visited it was locked and there was no staff around.


This is the largest of the Fudo statues, measuring 10 meters from the base up to the top of the flames.


I was there at Christmas, so the red foliage had passed, but the views are worth it any time of the year.

Japan Book Reviews

Friday, September 3, 2021

Cape Oyama Kannon


After descending from Konomine Shrine and Konomineji temple 27 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the route heads north up the coast of Lochi and you soon reach Cape Oyama. Not sure of the proper definition of a cape, but to my mind Cape Oyama does not extend out into the sea enough, though it is a pretty section of coast with rocky outcroppings and cliffs.

There is a small cave in one section and it has a small chapel/shrine with a Kannon statue. Or rather it had. It seems that it no longer exists, though it may be reinstated.

It seems that during earthquakes rocks used to fall from the roof of the cave quite easily and so it was always considered somewhat dangerous. There was an elevated cafe in front of the cave and some huge pillars erected to hold up the cave roof.

There was also a statue of Kobo Daishi in the cave which suggests some kind of link with him.

Recent photos show the small chapel destroyed and the cafe closed. Maybe it was storm damage or collapsing rocks, or a combination of both. Maybe it will be restored, or maybe not/

Increasingly I find that the some of subjects of my photographs and blogposts have ceased to exist. Maybe I should have a seperate blog called Glimpse of Disappeared Japan"

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Dounzan Temple 1 on the Shodoshima Pilgrimage


The main hall of Dounzan Temple is, like many of the temples on the Shodoshima Pilgrimage, a cave. It is located high up near the top of 434 meter high Goishizan in the SE of the island. It is temple number 1 on the pilgrimage, but very few pilgrims nowadays start here. I reached it towards the end of my first day walking the pilgrimage.

Arriving at the temple you first visit a standard temple building, the Daishi-do, enshrining Kobo daishi, the focus of this 88 temple pilgrimage. From there the path heads up through a stand of giant sugi trees to the first cave, Here is a spring that, like so many springs around the island and also on Shikoku, is sid to have been created by Kobo Daishi himself.

In the cave is a very slender statue of Kannon. A few days on either side of the summer solstice the sun hits the cave in such a way that the shadows create an image on the wall that looks like Kannon. The statue takes the same form. The temple is sometimes referred to as Geshi Kannon because of this.

The path then skirts the cliff face until a set of steps that have been built leading up and in to the main hall, the cave called Zaundo. Before the steps there would probably have been a set of chains hanging down for ascetic pilgrims to climb up into the cave.

Inside the tall cave is an eight-sided shrine housing a statue of Bishamonten, the honzon of the temple.