Showing posts with label hita kaido. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hita kaido. Show all posts

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Yoshii Juku Historic Preservation District

Yoshii Juku Historic Preservation District

The last post town on the Hita Kaido, or the first if you are leaving Hita and traveling west, was Yoshii, now a part of Ukiha.

Compared to Kusano, the former post town I have been showing you the last week or so, there is much more of Yoshii still remaining

So much, in fact,  that the area has been registered as a historical preservation district one of the topics I became intrigued by in recent years.

In the mid 17th century a canal was constructed to bring water from the nearby Chikugo River and this vastly increased the productivity of the agriculture in the area.

Around the same time a post station was established here, and the combination of both factors led to the growth and prosperity of the town.

The town suffered from three major fires, and so in the late 19th century, after the last big fire, the residents and merchants used white plaster to fireproof their buildings, leading to the appearance of "shirakabe", literally white walls, a common feature of many wealthy merchant districts in historical Japan.

Many of these preserved shirakabe streets are located in touristy areas and include many gift shops and other touristy establishments, but Yoshii is far enough off the beaten track that it appears more authentic.

The road from Yoshii ran along the south bank of the river into Hita, but just across the river was the main road that ran from Fukuoka to Hita, so some used that route.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Yamabedo Cultural Center Kusano


The Yamabedo Culture Centre has a permanent exhibition on local festivals, puts on a variety of exhibitions and events, and serves as a kind of tourist information centre with bike rentals.

It is located in Kusano, a former post town on the Hita Kaido, just east of Kurume.

It is a fine example of a western-style building that was popular in the Meiji period, though usually, some Japanese features were incorporated, like the roof tiles.

The building began construction in Kurume but was dismantled and moved to Kusano in 1914 and completed in 1918. It was originally a hospital.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Sennenji Temple the Nikko of Kyushu


Sennenji is a Jodo sect temple located in Kusano, a former post town on the Hita Kaido east of Kurume.

It is said the temple was founded in 1233 and the Amida statues is an Important Cultural property.

It has a nice gate, and the main hall is unusually painted in vermillion, but otherwise not particularly noteworthy.

However, several sources say that it was known as the Nikko of Kyushu, or the Toshogu of Kyushu. The Toshogu in Nikko is the famous shrine/mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and is known for its colorful and intricate carvings.

Supposedly the interior of the main hall here is covered in murals and the ceiling has a fine dragon painting, but I have yet to see a photo from the interior and can find no reports of anyone ever having been inside...

A modern, secondary building did have a small carving on it.....

It is also said that the famous garden designer Kobori Enshu designed the garden, but again there was no way to access it to see.....

Literally across the road is a large shrine which though unpainted, does have a lot of carvings, so maybe that is what the reference is to....

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Hita Preservation District


Hita is a small town in Oita, close to the border with Fukuoka, and on the Mikuma River, which runs into the Chikugo River.

The old part of town is called Mamedamachi, and is a Preservation District with streets of old buildings from various times in the Edo Period.

Due in large part to its location in the middle of northern Kyushu, with well established roads and river transport routes radiating out to other parts of Kyushu, it was pretty much the political and economic capital of Kyushu for several hundred years.

First it was directly controlled by Hideyoshi, and then his successor, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Following him it was controlled by the Bakufu, and as such was known as a tenryo town.

Certain sections of the old town are very tourist-oriented with lots of gifts shops etc, though there are a few small museums and some temples.

I will be posting about various sites in the town over the next few weeks.

I was here on day 53 of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Miscellaneous Statues along the Hita Kaido

Statues along the Hita Kaido

One of the subjects I focus on finding as I walk the roads and lanes of Japan is sculptures. On my walk along the Hita Kaido, the old highway running East out of Kurume, I encountered a huge number of them  I've posted about the large number of Ebisu statues along the road. Ther were so may I did a second post. One town along the way had lots of Kappas, and of course, I recently posted a lot of Komainus.

This time I want to show you a selection of other statues from that day's walk that don't fit the other categories.

The top photo is of a small shrine that has a diverse collection of statues left by different parishioners over time. In this particular instance, all the statues are Buddhist, but very often they are a mix of Buddhist, Shi to, Daoist, secular, and occasionally, Christian statues.


Shrines tend to not have as many statues s temples. Earlier they would have had a lot of Buddhist staues but most were removed in the seperation of buddhas and kami. Other than komainu, I think the second most common category of shrine statues would be Zuijin. Usually nrightly ainted, but sometimes lain wood, Lafcadio Hearn says they were a shinto response to Buddhist Nio guardians, though many shrines had Nio, and in some places, like the Kunisaki Peninsula, they still do.

I have to admit I jave no idea who or what this pair represent......

You will sometimes find a white, wooden horse, usually inside a small structure. These derive, I thnk, from the ancient tradition of offering horses to shrines for rain, and probably, in my opinion, from an earlier time when animals were sacrificed. Some shrines have rather realistic, bronze statues of hotses, made in the modern period I believe. This stone horse was quite funky, and I am not sure of its purpose or meaning.

Finally, I came across this phallic statue. Once very widesread, now mostly extinct, though I do keep finding them, mostly in remote locations. Mostly fertility objects, but many were also for prayers to heal sexual ailments and diseases, and I recently came across a very popular shrine devoted to prayers for "sexual vigor".

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Gallery of Komainu from the Hita Kaido


The Hita Kaido, the old highway that ran from Kurume to Hita, is also called yamanobenomichi, literally the road that runs along the edge of the mountains.

If you look on mas you will see that these yamanobenomichi are where the majority of the shrines and temples are, at the base of the mountains. I try to take these roads as much as possible for this reason. 

I am trying to document such things as komainu becaise I see the diversity of such things is gradually being replaced with a monocultural, standard, style. New komainu being installed in shrines across the country are all of the one design.

Many of the komainu pictured here are rather chunky in style

All of them are the stone type, placed usually on the approach to the shrine, rather than the wooden, painted ones found inside.

I realize blogs are now an outdated format, and twitter, youtube, instagram etc are more popular, and also that my subjects are not of interest to a wide audience.....

A large part of my reasons for continuing is because I am trying to catalog my photo collection, so that I can quickly find photos bt subject and topic.

Every post has a collection of tags at the bottom, so for instance if you wanted to see more photos of komainu, you click on the komainu tag.

Clicking this link has the same result.

I appreciate you reading this far, and if you have any requests for specific topics or sites please ask and I may be able to oblige as I have more than 100,000 photos not yet posted.

Best wishes for the New Year

Friday, December 24, 2021

Kappa of Tanushimaru

Japan Guide

When I reached Tanushimaru along the Hita Kaido, another kind of statue, other than Ebisu,  started to appear, namely Kappa.....

One of the most well-known of the yokai, the kappa is usually translated into English as "water sprite" and is a creature that inhabits rivers, ponds, etc. Legends of kappa are found all over Japan. Nowadays it is often rendered in a "cute" form.

The kappa in the area are depicted in other ways as well as by statues. It is one of the towns that feature them on decorated manhole covers. Our local town also features a kappa, though it is called enko in our area. It is based on a legend from my village and one of these days I will get around to telling it to you.

Kappa throughout Japan have a similar form..... a turtle shell, a beak, webbed feet, and an indented skull with a fringe of hair. I suspect this homogeneity of form began in the Edo period when collections of yokai images were published and then later in the twentieth century at first with the work of folklorist Yanagita Kunio, and then later with the manga and anime works of artists such as Mizuki Shigeru.

I confess to not having done the work to research the actual kappa stories of Tanushimaru.

At the end of the days walk I took the train back to Kurume and was surprised to see the small station of Tanushimaru....