Showing posts with label kyushu108. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kyushu108. Show all posts

Monday, July 11, 2022

Kakurega no Mori the 8th largest tree in Japan


Some of the biggest trees I have encountered while walking around Western Japan have been Camphor trees, Cinnamomum camphora, kusunoki in Japanese.

This example is found near the Chikugo River in Asakura, Fukuoka, and is named Kakurega no mori, which means "hideaway forest" and is believed to refer to the wooded area that stood here in earlier times when it was a barrier or checkpoint and people hid in the forest until nightfall when they could then slip through unnoticed.

It is said to be 1500 years old, though the ages of giant trees are very often exaggerated. It is registered as the 8th largest tree in Japan.

At chest height, the trunk has a circumference of 18 meters, at ground level the roots measure 34 meters in circumference, and it is 21 meters high, though before being damaged by  a typhoon in 1991 it was said to be somewhat taller

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Yoshii Juku Historic Preservation District


The last post town on the Hita Kaido, or the first if you are leaving Hita and traveling west, was Yoshii, now a part of Ukiha.

Compared to Kusano, the former post town I have been showing you the last week or so, there is much more of Yoshii still remaining

So much, in fact,  that the area has been registered as a historical preservation district one of the topics I became intrigued by in recent years.

In the mid 17th century a canal was constructed to bring water from the nearby Chikugo River and this vastly increased the productivity of the agriculture in the area.

Around the same time a post station was established here, and the combination of both factors led to the growth and prosperity of the town.

The town suffered from three major fires, and so in the late 19th century, after the last big fire, the residents and merchants used white plaster to fireproof their buildings, leading to the appearance of "shirakabe", literally white walls, a common feature of many wealthy merchant districts in historical Japan.

Many of these preserved shirakabe streets are located in touristy areas and include many gift shops and other touristy establishments, but Yoshii is far enough off the beaten track that it appears more authentic.

The road from Yoshii ran along the south bank of the river into Hita, but just across the river was the main road that ran from Fukuoka to Hita, so some used that route.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Kusano Juku Hita Kaido Post Town


Kusano, a little east of Kurume, was in the Edo period a post town on the main road known as the Hita Kaido, sometimes the Bungo Kaido. This is the former Kage family residence, built in 1780, the oldest building now in Kusano.

This second photo shows just how deep their property was compared to the frontage.

The road runs along the edge of the Mino mountain range. Most settlements were snuggled against the bottom of mountains, hence their names as "yamanobe"

This old house of a less wealthy family is now a cafe and gallery.

The local history museum is housed in the former bank, a western-style building painted pale blue like the nearby culture centre.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Yamabedo Cultural Center Kusano


The Yamabedo Culture Centre has a permanent exhibition on local festivals, puts on a variety of exhibitions and events, and serves as a kind of tourist information centre with bike rentals.

It is located in Kusano, a former post town on the Hita Kaido, just east of Kurume.

It is a fine example of a western-style building that was popular in the Meiji period, though usually, some Japanese features were incorporated, like the roof tiles.

The building began construction in Kurume but was dismantled and moved to Kusano in 1914 and completed in 1918. It was originally a hospital.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Susanoo Shrine Kusano


Susanoo Shrine Kusano.

Susano Shrine in Kusano near Kurume is sometimes read as Susanoen Shrine.

Susanoo Shrine Kusano.

Kusano was a post town on the Hita Kaido during the Edo period.

Susanoo Shrine Kusano.

The shrine was established at the end of the 12th century and is also known as Gion Shrine which means it is a branch of the famous shrine that is now called Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto.


The architectural style is "Gongen Zukuri", which is a blend of Buddhist and Shinto styles.


The main gate is most impressive, not just in scale but also in the number of carvings adorning it. The other buildings are similarly decorated.

Susanoo Shrine Kusano.

The buildings were rebuilt in the Meiji period, and its not clear if they were painted at any time, but in many ways, the shrine seems more like a Toshogu shrine than the temple across the road that has that reputation.



Monday, June 27, 2022

Sennenji Temple the Nikko of Kyushu


Sennenji is a Jodo sect temple located in Kusano, a former post town on the Hita Kaido east of Kurume.

It is said the temple was founded in 1233 and the Amida statues is an Important Cultural property.

It has a nice gate, and the main hall is unusually painted in vermillion, but otherwise not particularly noteworthy.

However, several sources say that it was known as the Nikko of Kyushu, or the Toshogu of Kyushu. The Toshogu in Nikko is the famous shrine/mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and is known for its colorful and intricate carvings.

Supposedly the interior of the main hall here is covered in murals and the ceiling has a fine dragon painting, but I have yet to see a photo from the interior and can find no reports of anyone ever having been inside...

A modern, secondary building did have a small carving on it.....

It is also said that the famous garden designer Kobori Enshu designed the garden, but again there was no way to access it to see.....

Literally across the road is a large shrine which though unpainted, does have a lot of carvings, so maybe that is what the reference is to....

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Hatsumode at Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine


January 2nd, 2014, I arrived back in Kurume to continue with my pilgrimage around Kyushu after having took a break to go home and visit my wife for a few days. On my way to the hotel I stoed in at a small, urban shrine, all decked out for the new year.

Kurume Sosha Hiyoshi Shrine is a branch of the Sanno shrine at the base of Mount Hie. It was originaly located in the castle but was relocated to this spot when the castle was rebuilt.

Hatsumode is the modern tradition of visiting a shrine or temple in the first days of the new year to pray for good fortune for the coming year, and I would guess that most Japanese take part nowadays with the most popular shirn receiving millions of visitors.

In the Edo period most peole did not do this. Some eole in the capital, Edo, started viiting shrines to the Seven Lucky Gods, and it is probably from this that Hatsumode grew with thencreation of a "national" religion and culture in the Meiji period.

Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine has multiple sub-shrines in the grounds, and not surprisingly an Ebisu Shrine was verry popular. The cult of Ebisu is strong in the area.

What was surprising was a buddhist shrine in the grounds, to what appears to be Fudo Myo, and that would have been removed during the Meiji period. There was also an Inari shrine, another very popuar cult.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Brief Guide to Museums of Hita

Museums of Hita 日田市

Whisky Museum

I visited Hita, a small, historic town near the border of Fukuoka in Oita, several times, the first being on day 53 of my walk around Kyushu on pilgrimage. I quite enjoyed the town and there was plenty to see in and around the Historic Preservation District, including a range of museums. The Whisky Museum was closed when I was there but it has a collection of 30,000 whiskeys and paraphernalia that have been collected by the owner since he was 13. If alcohol is your thug then there is a sake museum in the local brewery.

Museum in Hita.
Museum in Hita

In the Mamedamachi historic district, there are half a dozen small museums in the old houses and storehouses, including the Hirose Museum, and the Tenryo Hita Museum.

Exhibits include artifacts from wealthy merchants, the samurai bureaucrats who ran the town, and folk art and such.

Not to be missed is the Hita Gion Museum which houses the huge floats used in the towns Gion Festival, as well as other matsuri-related  objects and artworks.

There is a modern museum housing exhibits connected to the famous private academy, Kangien, and its founder , Hirose Tanso. Adjacent to the museum are two remaining buildings of the academy from the Edo period, Shufuan, and Enshiro.

The most popular museum I suspect is the Hina Doll Museum with its collection of more than 4,000 hina dolls, but it also has a few other historical displays not doll-related.