Showing posts with label kakinomoto hitomaro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kakinomoto hitomaro. Show all posts

Monday, March 6, 2023

Around the Next Bend

Around the Next Bend

This is the 5th post in my new series that explores the Gonokawa River, the longest in West Japan, as I walk up the right bank to the source almost 200 kilometers away.

On the opposite bank on the inside of the first big bend in the river is a still operating quarry that produces aggregate for concrete. This bank is far less inhabited but had a rail line that closed down a few years ago. I am interested to see how the depopulation of the countryside is affecting things....

For a while, the road clings to the narrow strip of land between the mountain slope and the water, made just wide enough for the road plus the rusting rails of the defunct railway.

And then we come to Chigane a tiny settlement in a small valley with maybe half a dozen houses. This used to be the next station on the rail line after Gotsu Honmachi, though in all my journeys on the train I never once saw anyone get on or off here. 20 years ago when I first moved to the area I joined a free Japanese language class run by the city. All of the other students were young Indonesian women who had married local men, one of them the oldest son of a farm family here in Chigane.

Though there were no fresh flowers, the roadside altars had been swept and kept clean.

At the next big horseshoe bend in the river, a sign points to a spot on the bank. On the other bank is a similar sign. They mark a spot on the river that is said to have been memorialized by the greatest of Japan's ancient poets, Hitomaro Kakinomoto. In the Manyoshu, the oldest book of Japanese poetry dating back to the 8th century, Hitomaro has the most poems. One of his wives was a woman from this area, and there are several spots around the area that commemorate places mentioned in their poems.

As I understand it, from this point on the river ceases to be tidal.

The next settlement is Tanomura, has large swathes of what was once rice paddies and fields that have now become swallowed up by Kudzu In the trees in the middle of the above photo are several quite large farmhouses, now abandoned.

The previous post in the series is Zenkakuji Temple.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Torii Tunnels


Lines of red torii placed so close together they form a tunnel are a common sight throughout Japan. The most famous and most photographed are at the Fushimi Inari Shrine near Kyoto, but smaller versions can be found all over at shrines and temples.


They are usually made of wood, occasionally steel, but more often nowadays plastic pipe is being used. Each torii will have been paid for by a donation, and the name of the donor is usually written on each, similar to how some shrines will have lines of more expensive stone lanterns.


The top photo is from the Inari Shrine in the grounds of Suwa Shrine, Nagasaki. The second photo is at Tadaji Temple in Hamada. The third is a small Inari hokora near Kokura Castle.


The photo above is an Inari shrine in the grounds of the Hitomaro Shrine in Masuda.


If the Inari shrine is on a hillside, like at Fushimi, then the torii tunnels will switchback up the hillside like the photo above taken at the Taikodani Inari Shrine in Tsuwano.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Manhole Fruit

Manhole Fruit

Manhole Fruit.

Found this one outside of Yanai in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Not sure which fruit it is other than a citrus.

Mito Town down in the west of Shimane is known for its Yuzu, a member of the citrus family that ripens in December.

Asahi Town is up in the mountains a few miles away from my village. They are known for their Nashi, Japanese pears. Much tastier than the pears we have in Europe.

Higashi Izumo seems to favor Kaki, persimmons.

Omishima, a small island in the Inland Sea, part of Ehime grows a lot of different citrus. Not sure which one this is meant to be.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meteor, Mountain, Manyoshu.


Bristling with towers and antennae, the 470m high Shimanohoshitakayama, hereafter known as Star Mountain, is visible from up and down the coast and from Rte 9 or the train as one passes through Gotsu.


The star on the mountainside, most visible after a snow or when lit up in August, symbolizes a meteor that slammed into the mountain in the year 874. At the site of the impact a temple was built. Reisyo-ji, and the meteor itself enshrined as Inseki Daimyojin, which could be translated as Meteor Great Shining Deity.


The space in the door of the little shrine is so you can reach in and touch the meteor. It is a decent size... I haven't been able to find out its weight, but it's close to a metre in length.
The crater made by its impact is now a small pond just in front of the temple.


The small temple itself is fairly nondescript, but outside there are several large statues of Kannon.


Like most temples or shrines that have a strong "folk" tradition, there are an interesting, eclectic, collection of little statues of assorted kami, buddhas, and saints.


Right next to the temple is a park with over 500 Camellia trees. Also nearby is a miniature golf course, and the local "Clean Center" which is where the trash gets recycled and incinerated. Only in Japan could a place that produces toxic dioxin be called a clean center!


There are several spots with scenic overviews of the coast and beautiful downtown Gotsu below.

There is a small settlement up here too, though I was surprised to learn that people didn't move on to the mountain until the 1940's.


The local shrine is named after Kakinomoto Hitomaro, probably the most well known of the ancient poets whose work is in the Manyoshu, the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry.

It is believed that the mountain is described in one of his famous poems, On Leaving Iwami, and the evidence is strong. The Sanindo, the ancient road linking the region to the capital in kyoto, passes in front of the mountain, and kakinomotos wife is from Tsunozu at the base of the mountain to the west. Actually he had quite a few wives, but Yosami no Otome is the most well known as she was a poet in her own right and her works are also in the Manyoshu. The love story of Kakinomoto and Yosami was made into a childrens picture book and images of the couple appear all over the Gotsu area, looking suitably cute.

This is a follow-up post to an earlier post.