Showing posts with label kashima. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kashima. Show all posts

Monday, July 24, 2023

Around Kashima Day 59 Kyushu Pilgrimage


A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 59 Kashima to Konagai
Monday February 17th 2014

Rain is in the forecast for today so I head off as soon as it is light hoping to minimize the amount of time I have to spend walking in the rain. I find the first pilgrimage temple of the day easily enough on a main road to the south of the town. Rengo-in, temple number 63, is quite a small temple but the main hall has a thatched roof. Though it's early the priests wife is out cleaning and she invites me behind the main building to a newish concrete “treasure house” which she unlocks and lets me in. Inside is arranged as an altar with a group of obviously old statues, the large central one dating from the 12th Century.

Temple 62, Tanjo-in is a few kilometers down the same main road though I miss it first time and have to backtrack as the rear of the temple complex is on the main road, the entrance being “behind” and I didn't see it. Tanjo-in is much larger with quite a few low buildings with gardens between, though they seem somewhat unkempt. There is no-one around so I can't see inside. The main road continues east towards the Ariake Sea and my route heads down the coast towards Nagasaki, but first I make a detour.


5 kilometers south is Yutoku Inari Shrine, one of the three top Inari shrines in Japan and though it will be a 10k detour I can't really be this close and not visit. Part way down the road my eye catches a rather unusual stone gate so I head over to investigate and find an information board. This is Fumyo-ji, a quite large temple with extensive grounds and so I head in to explore. The path does two 90 degree turns and passes by two ponds before the bell gate comes into view. It looks like no-one has done any upkeep in years. The whole place looks and feels abandoned. Many temples and shrines, especially in rural areas, are no longer inhabited and look deserted, but there are usually signs that someone comes in at times and does some upkeep, but here it truly feels as if no-one has been here in ages. It must have been grand in its day. Apparently, it was built by the local daimyo as a family temple and is a copy of manpuku-ji, the first Obaku Zen temple in Kyoto. I poke around but there is little to see except a large hanging wooden fish, a traditional temple bell. Back on the road towards Yutoku Inari and there is still none of the forecast rain.

As I get closer to the shrine the valley narrows and more signs of tourism appear, and the final approach is along a narrow lane lined with shops selling tourist souvenirs much the same as at any other major shrine or temple. The shrine itself is quite impressive. The main building is perched about 5 or 6 storeys off the ground, supported by a lattice of concrete though it must originally have been wood similar to the famous Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. From the top the view over the valley shows a series of paths and viewing platforms on the opposite side that would, I think, offer spectacular views of the vermillion shrine against the green mountainside. Pleased that it still hasn't started raining I run around and explore and take lots of photos. Then its back up the road the way I have just come from.  

Once back at the main road I am in Hizenhama, home to a Historic Preservation District of old buildings.There are a bunch of sake breweries and apparently sake tours are popular. Its quite nice to see historic areas not gentrified and made twee like in Kyoto or Kurashiki. Exploring down a side alley I find a“samurai” house. Large and thatched, it must have been a high-ranked samurai. There is free entrance so I pop in for a look-see. On the other side of the river is an area of lower class houses and there is a group of three very small homes that have been renovated. It is nice to see something that is not of the upper classes as most historic buildings are. I finally reach the coast and start to head south. I had walked up the coast on the opposite shore, but it is not visible in the haze. The water is mirror flat and poles stick out of the water holding nets. Finally the threatened rain begins and I press on quickly. The rain increases. The forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain all day so I decide to hop on a train into Nagasaki as I figure the city will be more comfortable on a rainy day than walking down the coast. A few kilometers before I reach the station at Konagai I pass into Nagasaki Prefecture, though I didn't notice it with my head down.

A summary of the previous day walking around Kyushu on the Kyushu Pilgrimage, Day 58 Takeo Onsen to Kashima.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Thatched Roof Townscape


Hizen Hamashuku, now a part of Kashima City in Saga, lies along the Hama River. On the north bank of the river, along what was in the Edo Period a fairly main highway, is a historic preservation district, Sakagura Street, with many historic buildings and numerous sake breweries.

However, on the south bank of the river, a little closer to the mouth where it enters the Ariake Sea, is another small preservation district, known as a "thatched roof townscape".

Many of these preservation districts consist of preserved buildings of wealthy merchants or high-class samurai, but here was a more "working class" neighborhood with much smaller homes.

In a maze of narrow lanes lived carpenters, blacksmiths, sailors, fishermen, and merchants.

A cluster of three small homes that belonged to the Ikeda, Nakamura, and Nakajima families, have been renovated and offer a fairly unique opportunity to see some smaller, traditional buildings.

When i visited first in 2016 the houses were open and free to enter. When I went back a couple of years ago they were closed up.

There are several other thatched properties, some larger, and on my last visit I noticed lots of water hoses on top of tall posts, ready to water down the rooves in case of fire.

Unlike many of these preservation districts, there are no cafes, souvenir shops, etc, it is still just a funky, lower-class residential area, and therefore in many ways actually more authentic.

It is a short walk from the Sakakura Sake District and just a few minutes from Hizenhama JR railway station.

This was the last stop of my tour of Kashima on day 59 of my walk around Kyushu and from here I headed off down the coast.

The previous post in the series was the samurai residence nearby. Other Preservation Districts I've recently covered include Mima on Shikoku, and Tsuyama in Okayama.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Former Samurai Residence


Hidden among the maze of small alleys around Sakagura Street in Hizen Hamasuku, Kashima, is a well-preserved example of a former samurai home that is open to the public.

It is quite a substantial 2-storeyed structure with a thatched roof and is believed to have been built in the early 19th century.

It differs from most of the other samurai residences I have posted on, like the one in Matsue, or the one in Izushi, in that it is not within a samurai quarter of a castle town, but rather is set among residences of farmers.

Evidence from the interior arrangements suggests that this samurai family was engaged in silkworm production and farming, activities officially "beneath" those of the samurai class.

There was a certain amount of "class" turmoil by the 19th century as many impoverished samurai gave up their statues to become farmers or even merchants, and many rich merchants and farmers being given trappings of samurai statues like family names and permission to wear swords.

The thatched roof of this property is U-shaped, a local style known as Kudo-Zukuri. Like with many such sites in Japan off the main tourist track, entry is free.

The previous post was on the nearby Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura Street Preservation District.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura Street Preservation District


Along the banks of the Hama River in the southern part of what is now Kashima City in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu, Hizen Hamashuku was a town that grew up along the Tara Kaido, a branch of the Nagasaki Kaido.

The area around a 600-meter-long section of the old road is named Sakagura Street and is now a registered preservation district of traditional architecture.

Among the traditional stores and homes are three surviving sake breweries from among the thirteen that originally dominated the area.

Touring the traditional sake breweries and sampling the many varieties still produced here is now the many attraction that draws tourists from far and wide.

In combination with 3 other sake breweries in Kashima, including one near the famous Yutoku Inari Shrine, major sake festivals are held in the Spring and Autumn.

I am not a big fan of sake, so for me the area was of more interest because of the traditional architecture.

Other than the sake breweries there are souvenir shops, cafes, and eateries,

Sakagura Street is just a few minutes walk from Hizenham JR Station.

Just off the main street is an old, thatched, former samurai residence that I will cover next post.

The previous post in this series chronicling day 59 of my Kyushu walk was the nearby Yutoku Inari Shrine.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Fumyo-ji Temple Kashima


I have to admit that I thought that Fumyoji was an abandoned temple when I passed by the entrance.

It was mid-winter so all the trees and plants were bare, but the paths were overgrown with weeds and there was no sign of any recent maintenance or human activity of any kind.

Fumyoji was established in 1677 as the family temple for the local rulers, the Nabeshima Family. In the woods behind the min hall are the graves of successive lords of the domain, though I did not venture to them.

Kashima Domain was quite a small domain, actually a sub-domain of Saga. They were not big enough to be allowed a castle. Fumyoji was an Obaku sect temple. Obaku being the most recent form of Zen Buddhism introduced into Japan via Nagasaki earlier in the 17th century.

Fumyoji is said to be modeled on Manpuku-ji in Kyoto, the head temple of the sect.

The previous post in this series exploring day 59 of my walk around Kyushu was Tanjo-in Temple.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Tanjo-in Temple 62 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Tanjo means "birth" in Japanese, and Tanjo-in Temple in Kashima, Saga is built on the spot where Kakuban, known posthumously as Kogyo Daishi, was born in 1095.

The temple was founded in 1405 at the request of the Shogun Yoshimitsu. Nearby is Rengon-in, a temple connected to where Kakuban first studied the Dharma as a child.

At the end of the 16th century, the temple was destroyed during the Warring States Period. At the end of the 17th century, the local Daimyo of the Nabeshima clan tried unsuccessfully to revive the temple.

In 1913 a descendant of the Nabeshima and influential local people succeeded in getting the temple rebuilt. The grounds are quite large and planted with a wide variety of flowering shrubs and trees including Cherry, Wisteria, Azalea, etc.

The honzon is a Fudo Myoo and it has a statue of Kakuban in front. The Fudo came from Negoro-ji Temple in Wakayama which is where Kakuban died and has his tomb.

He is credited with being a reformer of Shingon and his disciple officially set up a "new" branch called Shingi. For a while he controlled Koyasan. He also was a cause of conflict which is why he left Koyasan for Negoro-ji.

The Kondo, built in 1929, enshrines a statue of Kakuban. Tanjo-ji has a reputation as a place to pray for safe childbirth.

It is number 62 on the 108 temple Shingon Kyushu Pilgrimage, and I visited on the 59th day of my walk. A few minutes earlier I had visited Rengon-in, number 63.