Showing posts with label chigi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chigi. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2022




Just a couple of hundred metres from a Hachiman Shrine adjacent to the Nanagi Fudoson Temple was the entrance to a much larger Hachiman shrine, Chirikuhachimangu. The torii, entrance gate, is in Hizen style, Hizen being the name of the former province that made Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. Also visible is the pair of Kadomatsu, the new years' decorations with bamboo centres.


A ceremony was underway when I arrived so I walked around quietly. It was Jan 5th, so not sure what ceremony it was.


The ornamentation on tye roof is now purely decorative. The cross-pieces are called chigi. If the ends are cut vertically, like here, it indicates that the main kami enshrined is male. A horizontal cut indicates female kami. The horizontal "log" pieces are called katsuogi. Both were used in early Japanese architecture to help weigh down the thatched roof.


This pair of komainu was somewhat unusual, with long, almost cylindrical bodies, not unlike others I had seen further south in Kumamoto.


Looking back from the shrine over Nagatoishi, with Kurume across the other side of the river. The shrine is in Saga, but Nagatoishi, which used to be mostly rice-paddies 50 years ago, is part of Fukuoka. The river mostly forms the boundary between the two prefectures, but the actual boundary is far more serpentine with horseshoe bends crossing over to each side of the river so that  sections of the opposite banks belong to the other  prefecture , suggesting that the river has been straightened quite dramatically in recent times.;


There are quite a few large camphor trees and numerous sub- shrines within the grounds. Hachiman shrines are the most common shrines in Japan nowadays but originally it was a north Kyushu cult that later spread to Nara and then Kyoto, then becoming so widespread after being adopted by the samurai. This shrine, however, is said to be one of a half dozen or so major hachiman shrines in north Kyushu that pre-date its national adoption.


I am curious as to the reason for the stance the horse statue is taking.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mononobe Shrine


By mid afternoon on the second day of my walk along the Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage, I came to Mononobe Shrine, the Ichinomiya (highest-ranked shrine) of old Iwami province.


The first time I came here I was struck by the huge Chigi on top of the roof. Originally used to help stabilize thatched roofs, on shrines they are now only decorative, but fulfill a symbolic function. If the ends of the cross pieces are cut vertically, like here, then the kami enshrined is male. Conversely, a horizontal cut means a female kami.


The ema. votive plaques, are not the usual 5-sided shape, but in the shape of a rice scoop. Called sukuu in Japanese, sukuu also means "save" as in salvation. The temizuya is also distinctive, carved out of a massive rock and adorned with carvings.


The main kami enshrined here is Umashimade no mikoto, the ancestor of the Mononobe clan, considered by some to be the precursor to the samurai. Umashimade was made head of the Imperial Guard by the mythical first emperor Jimmu. Umashimade's tomb is on the hillside above the shrine.


For more about why he was here and the fascinating history of the Mononobe, I will save until the next post

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A couple of paintings


I used to do a lot of painting before I got into making masks, so I thought I'd post a couple.
This first one is titled Tanijyugo Anniversary, and I painted it to mark one year of living in Tanijyugo, so that must have been 5 years ago.


This second one is titled Mononobe. The Mononobe were an old clan in ancient Yamato, but it is also a major shrine in Iwami. When I first visited it I was impressed with the chigi, the cross-pieces on the roof.


Another element in my paintings is the shimenawa, the rope that marks sacred space.

An evening on Tsunoshima 664

Both paintings are acrylic on paper, approx 38 cms. sq.
They are of course for sale :)