Showing posts with label kibi bike path. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kibi bike path. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Iyama Hofuku-Ji


Hofuku-Ji is a rather nice and peaceful temple to the north of Soja in Okayama, a short diversion off of the Kibi Bike Path.


Originally it was a Tendai temple but in 1232 became a Rinzai Zen Temple.


The great zen artist and gardener Sesshu was born near here and it was to Hofuku-Ji that he was sent as a child to begin his training for the priesthood. The famous story of Sesshu and the rat is set here.


The grounds and the gardens are very pleasant, and are particularly enjoyable with the fall colors.


The three storey pagoda is registered as an important cultural asset.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kitsune of Saijo Inari


Kitsune, foxes, are the messengers of the kami Inari, so statues of them can be found at all Inari shrines and temples. Like Komainu, there are a variety of different designs and styles.
All of these photos are from Saijo Inari in Okayama.


Most kitsune statues are carved in stone, but here there were many large ones of clay. I believe they are known as Bizen style.


There were a pair of strange looking ones made of concrete!!


Often the kitsune will have a scroll in its mouth. The scroll contains wisdom.



Occasionally there will also be komainu as well as kitsune.


Small ceramic kitsune are left as offerings, along with sake (omiki)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saijo Inari


The Niomon at Saijo Inari is most unusual. It is built of stone in the style of an Indian Palace.


The nio are quite remarkable, though taking photos of them is hindered by the wire grill protecting them.

Saijo Inari is often considered on of the top three Inari in Japan. It is located a little off the Kibi Bike Path, and well worth the detour.


Saijo Inari is officially a temple named Myokyo-Ji, and is sometimes known as Takamatsu Inari.

According to legend it was originally founded in the 8th Century as a Tendai temple. In the 16th Century it became a Nichiren temple, and in 1954 it became the head temple of its own separate sect known as Saijo Inarikyo.


According to the founding legend the founder of the temple, a monk known as Hoon Daishi, had a vision involving a deity riding a flying white fox, though it is quite possible that this is a Meiji-era invention created after the separation of the buddhas and kami.


Also worshipped here along with Inari is the Lotus Sutra, and behind the main hall of the temple the cliff has been sculpted supposedly into a sculpture based on the Lotus Sutra.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Karube Shrine


Karube Shrine is located a few minutes from Kiyone JR Station on the Hakube line. The shrine is a few kilometers south of the Kibi Bike Path and well worth a detour off the path to visit.


Like so many shrines it is built at the base of the hills, and in the grounds are several small secondary shrines, probably gathered here from the surrounding area in the early 20th Century.


When we get to the main building of the shrine however we see what makes Karube Shrine different and why it has the nickname Oppai (boobs) Shrine.


The kami here is Chichigamisama, the kami of breasts and women come here to pray for plenty of breastmilk and safe delivery of children.


The Ema with breasts on can be purchased locally, and the prayers written on them were split 50/50 between asking for good milk and safe birth and for relief from breast cancer.


What I found more interesting were the ema that were hand-made rather than being purchased.


The custom of breast ema seems to have spread a little. This last photo is from a sub-shrine at nearby Kibitsu Shrine.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kibitsuhiko Shrine


Kibitsuhiko Shrine is at one end of the Kibi Bike path near to Bizen Ichinomiya Station where bikes can be rented or dropped off if coming from the other end. The shrine is about 1k from Kibitsu Shrine which is the Ichinomiya (first-ranked shrine) of the old Bitchu province. Kibitsuhiko Shrine is the Ichinomiya of the old Bizen province.


The shrine is also known as Asahinomiya as the building are lined up with the sunrise and sunset of summer solstice.

The main kami enshrined is once again Kibitsuhiko, one of the sources of the Momotaro story. Also the mythical/legendary 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Emperors are enshrined here though I suspect that they may have been a Meiji era addition.


Traditionally the Japanese did not enshrine emperors as kami. Other than the case of Ojin who became equated with the kami Hachiman through an oracle, and a couple of emperors who died violent deaths and were enshrined in a buddhist procedure, all the emperors now enshrined as kami were done in the modern era of State Shinto/ Emperor worship. Some of the biggest shrines now, Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, Heian Jingu in Kyoto, Kashihara Shrine in Nara, are all modern creations.


In the grounds of the shrine is a stone lanterm 11.5 meters tall. Possibly the biggest stone lantern in Japan.


There is also an old, large sacred tree, but on closer examination it turns out to be mostly concrete. Most of the tree died with some form of rot so to keep it standing the rotten part was filled in and sculpted with concrete.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kibitsu Shrine


The distinctive roof of Kibitsu Shrine is visible from quite a distance as one approaches on the Kibi Bike Path.


From a sub-shrine there is a 400 meter corridor leading to the main shrine.


Kibitsu Shrine is a major shrine, for a long time the Ichinomiya (top-ranked shrine) of Okayama, so there are numerous secondary shrines within its grounds.


The shrine is a major tourist destination and has a large staff including many miko.


The main building, in its current form built in the early 15th Century, is a National Treasure.

Like Izumo Taisha in Shimane, Kibitsu Shrien was built by the Yamato after their conquest of the region and enshrines Kibitsuhiko (Wakahikotakekibitsuhiko)as well as


who all seem to be members of the family of the mythical emperor Korei, linked with the conquest of Kibi.


Nowadays Kibitsuhiko is linked with Peach Boy Momotaro and images of Momotaro are in evidence at the shrine, on Ema etc

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Koikui Shrine


Koikui is a small shrine just off the Kibi Bike Path.


It has a fine pair of Bizen-style ceramic komainu. It also had a buddhist bell.


Koikui means "carp eating" and refers to the mythical events that took place at this spot.

One of the most well-known folk tales in Japan is Momotaro, the Peach Boy, and it is partly based on a much older story of Kibitsuhiko.

This area was ruled over by a demon, said to be a king from Kudara (Paekche in what is now called Korea). Prince Kibitsuhiko was sent by the Yamato to defeat this demon. During the battle the demon transformed himself into a carp and swam away. Kibitsuhiko turned into a cormorant and caught the carp and killed it at the spot where the shrine now stands.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bitchu Kokubunji


The pagoda at Bitchu Kokubunji is a landmark on the Kibi Bike Trail. Its a classic example of a late Edo Period pagoda, being constructed in the middle of the 19th Century.


The original Kokubunji was built in the middle of the 8th Century and the site is near the current Kokubunji.


The Kokubunji were a series of temples built under orders of Emperor Shomu as a way of consolidating control over the provinces, each province had a Kokubunji, and its purpose was to protect the ruling elite in Yamato.


Most of the kokubunji fell into disuse during the Heian period, and none of them became famous.

Bitchu Kokubunji is the only kokubunji that still has a pagoda.


At the time of the kokubunji's establishment, Buddhism was still under the control of the rulers and used for their own protection and safety. It was illegal to teach common people about Buddhism.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tenmangu Shrine, Tsudera


The Tenmangu Shrine in the village of Tsudera is located a little off the Kibi Bike Path, and is a fairly standard, small, local shrine, but it is my nature to not be able to pass by a Torii without going in to explore.


The honden backs right up to the Sanyo Expressway and the shrine was newly reconstructed using money from the construction project. The honden was decorated as this particular saturday in June was the annual matsuri.


In front of the honden were the offerings laid out for the kami, in this case Tenjin, the deified identity of Sugawara Michizane.


What was unusual, and something I don't remember seeing before is that flowers were used. Thats a Buddhist practise, and though officially "separated" by the government, buddhism and shinto evolved symbiotically and one can still find evidence of the mix. Also unusually this shrine, and others in the area, still had a buddhist bell.


Deep in the shadows of the interior of the honden peeking out from behind a screen was Sugawara himself.