Showing posts with label kunisaki pilgrimage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kunisaki pilgrimage. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Mt. Ebisu Reisenji Temple


Reisenji Temle was one of the 12 main temples located in the heart of the Kunisaki peninsula in Oita that made up the unique Rokugo Manzan cult and pilgrimage, a form of Shugendo based on Usa Hachiman and  Tendai Buddhism.

Situated high up the Takeda River valley, one of the 28 valleys that radiated out from the volcanic heart of the peninsula.

The main gate was relocated here from neighbouring Rokusho Shrine after the separation of Buddhas and Kami. The shrine, Jisson-in Temple, and Reisenji Temple were all originally the same site.

Reisenji is nowadays number 14 on the Rokugo Manzan pilgrimage which can be followed along a recently renovated long-distance trail, the Kunisaki Hanto Moimemichi Long Trail. It is said the temple was founded in 718. The honzon is a Thousan-Armed Kannon.

The shrines and temples of Kunisaki are known for their stone Nio guardians, and Resenji is home to six, 2 of which are guarding the biggest Jizo statue in all of Kyushu.

Almost 5 meters tall, and made out of a single piece of stone, the Jizo was carved in 1860.

I visited at the start of my second leg walking the Kyushu Fudo pilgrimage during which I walked a large part of the Kunisaki pilgrimage at the start as they somewhat coincided. The previous post in the series was on the large Hachiman Shrine near the mouth of the Takeda River.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Shunkoji Temple Kyushu

Shunkoji Temple Kyushu

Shunkoji Temple Kyushu.

Shunko-ji is one of a group of three temples adjacent to each other and all known individually as Tsubakidera, or Camelia Temple. They are located in the Kunisaki area of Oita in Kyushu.

Shunkoji Temple Kyushu.

Shunkoji, on the left in the top picture, seems to be the original, and there seems to be some antagonism between it and the other two.


All three temples are built on the site that it is said Kobo Daishi visited after coming back from China and then visiting nearby Usa Jingu.


The temple was founded around 320 years ago by the 11th priest of nearby Tennenji Temple. The 10th priest had visited Shikoku and on his return had founded a local 88 temple pilgrimage, the Bungo Ohenro. Curiously the temple across the road is a member of that pilgrimage, and Shunkoji is not.

The main hall.

Shinkoji does have quite a large statue of Kobo Daishi on high ground within the temple grounds. Underneath the statue is a spring said to have been created by Kobo Daishi.

Shunkoji Temple Kyushu.

In my previous post, I showed a few of the Fudo statues in Shunkoji and the Kaiun Fudo shrine at the start of the entrance road.


Later I will do a much longer post on the other two temples.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kaiun Fudo Myo & Shunkoji Temple Fudo Myo

Kaiun Fudo Myo & Shunkoji Temple Fudo Myo

Kaiun Fudo Myo & Shunkoji Temple Fudo Myo.

Heading down the valley after visiting Mudo-ji Temple in the Kunisaki area of Oita, Kyushu, I stopped at a small roadside shrine with a large Fudo Myo-o statue.


This was Kaiun Fudo Myoo, a Fudo known for changing your fortune and luck to good. My guess is it is a fairly modern statue.

Kaiun Fudo Myo & Shunkoji Temple Fudo Myo.

A narrow road leads up a small side valley to a cluster of three temples, one being Shunkoji Temple.

Shunkoji Temple.

Shunkoji Temple also had numerous Fudo statues.

Shunkoji Temple.

Though I was walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, Shunkoji was not a part of the actual pilgrimage, though the whole area of  Kunisaki is an ancient Yamabushi site, so Fudo statues are plentiful.

Shunkoji Temple.

Shunkoji lays claim to a connection with Kobo Daishi, so in the next post I will explore that connection and the temple.

Shunkoji Temple.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Tennenji Temple & Misosogi Shrine


Located above  the Kawanaka Fudo Magaibutsu, Tennenji Temple and Misosogi Shrine are in essence the same place.

They are fairly rudimentary structures, one with a thatched roof. A flood in 1941 washed the original temple away and there have been no resident priests since then and the remaining statues have been looked after by local people.

These 4-5 meter long torches are in readiness for the Shujo Onie fire festival in early February where dancers dressed as demons dance with fire to bring good fortune. These fire festivals take place at several sites around the Kunisaki peninsula. The one I visited at Iwatoji Temple can be seen here.

Next door is a museum devoted to the Shujo Onie festival but which also houses many of the ancient statues from the original temple.

The shrine building has a male-female mask combination. This is fairly common at many shrines, and most would say that the red-faced mask with the long nose was a Tengu, but I think it is a Sarutahiko mask as it is not wearing the tokin, the small black hat that yamabushi wore.

Sarutahiko is considered one of the origins of Tengu. According to the ancient myths, Sarutahiko guided the Yamato heavenly deities down to Japan and later married Uzume and that leads to the combination of masks seen here....

Uzume later became the model for the Otafuku character.....

The shrine, and temple, have their inner sanctuaries under overhangs in the cliff face....

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Middle of the River Fudo Myo

Middle of the River Fudo Myo

Kawanaka Fudo is a large relief carving of Fudo Myo flanked by his two attendants. It is carved into a huge boulder in the Nagaiwaya River in the Kunisali peninsula of Oita in north Kyushu.

I arrived here after climbing down from Choanji  Temple on the morning of my second day walking along an old pilgrimage route around the peninsula that I was following as the start of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Myo pilgrimage.

Yesterday right at the very start of my walk I visited a much larger cliff carving of Fudo at the Kumano Magaibutsu, magaibutsu being the Japanese word for cliff carving.

This one is much  smaller at only 3 meters in height. Above the riverbank is Tennenji Temple and Misosogi Shrine, a syncretic sacred site typical of the form of shugendo that operated here for centuries.

Rokugo Manzan, the name of the system that was a combination of Usa Hachiman Shinto and Tendai Buddhism, was responsible for the many magaibutsu in the area. Oita has more magaibutsu than any other area of Japan, and the Kunisaki area has the most in Oita. Some of the other ones I visited yesterday can be seen here.

In fact, the whole landscape of the Kunisaki peninsula is inscribed as a mandala. This river valley is one of 28 that radiate out from the centre of the peninsula. The Lotus Sutra contains 28 chapters. There are more than 32,000 Chinese characters in the Lotus Sutra, and it is said that the exact same number of stone statues and cliff carvings were made in this area.

here are a couple of other small magaibutsu  in the vicinity. This area is one of my favorite areas in all of Japan, and typing in "Kunisaki" or clicking any of the tags below will bring up dozens and dozens of posts.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yama Shrine


After leaving Fuki-ji temple, the oldest wooden building in Kyushu and a fairly major tourists site, I carried on up the narrow, mountain road upon which vehicular traffic had ceased passing me. On this, my first day embarked upon the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage I was following the Kunisaki Hanto Minemichi Long Trail which roughly followed the route of the ancient Kunisaki pilgrimage.

The road crossed over a ridge and dropped down into the next of the 28 valleys that radiate out from the centre of the peninsula. 28 "chapters" of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddhist text that the pilgrimage maps. I arrive at the entrance to Yama Shrine.... simply named Mountain Shrine.

Over the years, as I have wandered the back roads of rural Japan I have noticed that some regions have very few shrines, and other areas have huge number of shrines. Kunisaki is one of the latter. Yama Shrine is quite crude and ridimentary. No fancy carvings nor elaborate structures. More like a simple mountain hut.

Like many shrines in the region is does however have a pair of stone Nio, the Buddhist guardians that are often found at temples. In 1868 the government officially separated Buddhism and "shinto" and elements such as Nio were removed from shrines. Apparently, the memo never reached Kunisaki. It has sometimes been referred to The Land That Time Forgot, as like my own home region of Iwami, traditions were not so radically reinvented.

There are said to be more than 32,000 stone statues of various sizes throughout the peninsula, one for each kanji character that comprises the Lotus Sutra.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Treasures of Makiodo

The Treasure Hall at Makiodo Temple in the Hunisaki area.

Makiodo was built on the site of Makisan Denjo-ji, a large temple in the Kunisaki Peninsula area of Oita. The temple burned down in the early 14th Century but some of the statues were saved and are on display now at Makiodo.

Amida Nyorai flanked by the 4 Shitenno
Makisan Denjoji was reputed to be the biggest of the Tendai temples in the Kunisaki area that was home to a Tendai version of Shugendo. I visited it on the first day of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage. The first group of temples on the pilgrimage are located in the Kunisaki area and as I had been long wanting to walk the old Kunisaki Pilgrimage I used this opportunity. The Kunisakihanto Minemichi Long Trail approximately follows the old pilgrimage route.

Rare Statue of Daitoku Myo at Makiodo
All the statues on display in the Treasure House are obviously more than 700 years old and include a seated Amida Buddha with the four Shitenno, Heavenly Guardians, flanking it. What is believed to be the biggest example of A Daitoku Myo in Japan, seated astride an ox, and a wonderful Fudo Myo with his two attendants.

Fudo Myo at Makiodo in Kunisaki
In a separate building are other artworks and a pair of Nio guardians. Makiodo is located less than 3 kilometers north from the Kumano Magaibutsu, and like many of the really interesting places in Japan , not really served by public transport.

Ancient Nio statue on display at Makiodo