Showing posts with label hitoyoshi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hitoyoshi. Show all posts

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Senfukuyama Kanrenji Temple 53 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


Located on a hilltop just north of the main train station in Hitoyoshi, Kanrenji is temple 53 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage that I visited towards the end of my 42nd day walking.

Said to be founded as a zen temple by Taira Shigemori, son of the famous Taira Kiyomori, it was destroyed during the Warring States period and rebuilt as a Shingon temple at the end of the 16th century.

The honzon is an 11 -faced Kannon claimed to date back to the temples founding in the 12th century. The temple is also on the local Kannon Pilgrimage.

This was my last stop in Hitoyoshi. Next day I would start walking the Kuma River further downstream to the coast.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Takatera-in Temple 52 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


As the suffix "in" shows, this was not originally a full temple, rather a hermitage.

The main building seems to be primarily the priests house. However the focus of the temple is the okunoin, or inner sanctuary.

Reached via 375 stone steps, after climbing to the top there is still a walk through the forest along an ancient stone path.

The okunoin used to house three statues of Bishamonten, two of which are registered nationally as Important Cultural Propertis and are now kept in the temple's teasure house and ar not normally shown to the public.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Down the Kumagawa River by Boat


The Kuma River, or as it is commonly referred to in English, the Kumagawa River, that runs through  Hitoyoshi is classed as one of the three fastest rivers in Japan. It was also the site of disastrous floods earlier this year.

Boat trips on the river are a major tourist attraction, with primarily two courses offered, the Seiryu course from Hitoyoshi down to Watari, and the Kyuryu course from Watari down to Kyusendo. The Kyuryu is the fastest section and involves a lot of whitewater.

I took the Seiryu which is gentler and is by far the most popular. Each traditional, wooden boat has two boatmen who in the slower sections help propel the boat, and in faster sections do more steering.

Though every boat carries a loudspeaker that is pumping out music and commentary it is nevertheless a very pleasant experience.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Unique Shimekazari of Hitoyoshi


Shimekazari are traditional New Year decorations usually found attached to the front door of homes and businesses. At the heart of a shimekazari is a small, stylized shimenawa, the "rope" used to demarcate sacred space, typically at shrines.

The shimekazari has the function to protect against bad spirits,but also to attract good fortune, and therefore usually include various symbols of good fortune like daidai, a kind of bitter orange, and or pine twigs.

While exploring Hitoyoshi in Kumaoto I came across these examples of shimekazari that are both very large, and also incredibky ornate, but also made out of  rice straw.

They go much further with the range of symbols of good fortune and include dragons, cranes, horses, etc. While normal shimekazari are destroyed after the new year period, these unique versions are obviously treasured as folk art.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gangoji Temple & Kannonzenji Temple


The Sagara Graveyard I visited in Hityoshi was located behind a small temple, Gangoji, and there was a little bit of autumn color around the temple.

Near Gangoji I passed a larger temple, Kannonzenji, and there was a bit more color there.

Because of the pandemic I didn't get to do my usual walks hunting the Fall colors this year, so these will have to do.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sagara Family Tombs


My first stop on the 41st day of my walk around Kyushu was at the Sagara Family Cemetery behind Gangoji Temple.

37 generations of the Sagara family had ruled over the Hitoyoshi domain in Kumamoto for more than 700 years. The founder of the family had the most elaborate of tombs. It seems the Sagara were a branch of the Fujiwara.

Most of the tombs had numerous gorinto around them These 5-leveled stone pagoda are a kind of funerary stupa. I believe there are more than 250 here.

The site of the first lords tomb was once a building, and the temple was much larger than now but was destroyed during the Satsuma Rebellion. The grounds of the temple are now built up with a very large kindergarten but the graveyard is kind of dark and still.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hitoyoshi Castle Garden

Right next to the ruins of Hitoyoshi Castle, in the grounds of what is now the Sagara Gokoku Shrine, are the remnants of a traditional Japanese garden.

I suspect this was the location of the Daimyo's "Palace", and the gardens are not very well maintained, but are particularly pleasant in the Autumn.

There seems to be very little information about it, but I have seen it referred to as a stroll type garden. There are two bridges over the pond to the island and a waterfall^arrangement of rocks behind the pond.

It is always open, and free to enter.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hitoyoshi Castle


Hitoyoshi Castle, like most castles in Japan, is pretty much a ruin having been dismantled in the early meiji Period. However the remaining stonework is quite impressive, especially in the context of its location.

It is built on the banks of the Kumagawa River and uses it and a tributary as a moat. The form it is in now dates back to the early 17th Century. A gate and a small yagura have been rebuilt in modern times.

The originalcastle on the site was built in the 13th Century. The castle nd the surrounding area is unusual in that it was held by the same clan, the Sagara, from the 13th Century until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

It is free to enter and is particular spectacular in November when the autumn colors are in full swing

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ghost Temple Eikoku-ji

Eikoku-ji temple in Hitoyoshi is located on the opposite bank of the Kuma River to the Aoi Aso Shrine, near the castle. It is also known as Yureidera, literally "Ghost Temple". The temple is a Soto Zen temple and ws founded in 1408 by a monk named Jittei.

He saw a ghost rising from the temple pond and a scroll painting he did of the ghost is still in the temple's possession. The temple is also famous for having been used as a headquarters by Saigo Takamori during the Satsuma Rebellion of the late 19th Century.

The principal statues in the main hall are of Shakyamuni, Monju, and Fugen.

Following Saigo's month long stay here in 1877, the fighting that took place resulted in the temples burning down, It was rebuilt in 1891.

I am fairly sure this statue is of Akiba Daigongen, with flames, fangs, and the rope being associated with Fudo Myo, The beak and wings with Crow Tengu, and standing on a fox. Similar to Izuna Gongen, though there is also a Doryo Daigongen another similar deity that has a Soto connection.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Koya-ji Temple 99 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage

 Koya-ji, or as it is locally known "Oshi-san", or "Koya-san" is a small, fairly modern temple located right across from the famous Aoi Aso Shrine in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto.

It was established in 1918, and Kobo Daishi is the honzon located inside the octagonal main hall. In the grounds are 88 small statues of the Buddhas of the main 88 temple pilgrimage and a largish Mizuko Jizo.

In July 2020 the area was heavily flooded and entered the main building, so plenty of damage has been done and things washed away.