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

Friday, December 30, 2022




Just a couple of hundred metres from a Hachiman Shrine adjacent to the Nanagi Fudoson Temple was the entrance to a much larger Hachiman shrine, Chirikuhachimangu. The torii, entrance gate, is in Hizen style, Hizen being the name of the former province that made Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. Also visible is the pair of Kadomatsu, the new years' decorations with bamboo centres.


A ceremony was underway when I arrived so I walked around quietly. It was Jan 5th, so not sure what ceremony it was.


The ornamentation on tye roof is now purely decorative. The cross-pieces are called chigi. If the ends are cut vertically, like here, it indicates that the main kami enshrined is male. A horizontal cut indicates female kami. The horizontal "log" pieces are called katsuogi. Both were used in early Japanese architecture to help weigh down the thatched roof.


This pair of komainu was somewhat unusual, with long, almost cylindrical bodies, not unlike others I had seen further south in Kumamoto.


Looking back from the shrine over Nagatoishi, with Kurume across the other side of the river. The shrine is in Saga, but Nagatoishi, which used to be mostly rice-paddies 50 years ago, is part of Fukuoka. The river mostly forms the boundary between the two prefectures, but the actual boundary is far more serpentine with horseshoe bends crossing over to each side of the river so that  sections of the opposite banks belong to the other  prefecture , suggesting that the river has been straightened quite dramatically in recent times.;


There are quite a few large camphor trees and numerous sub- shrines within the grounds. Hachiman shrines are the most common shrines in Japan nowadays but originally it was a north Kyushu cult that later spread to Nara and then Kyoto, then becoming so widespread after being adopted by the samurai. This shrine, however, is said to be one of a half dozen or so major hachiman shrines in north Kyushu that pre-date its national adoption.


I am curious as to the reason for the stance the horse statue is taking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Nanagi Jizoson

Nanagi Jizoson


Not far from Dainichi-Ji I came upon a small temple with many visitors even though it was early in the morning. Apparently, yesterday was major festival day.

Shrine in Japan.

The temple is named after a Jizo carving, a relief carving rather than a full 3D statue. It is dated to the late 14th century and is the main "draw" of the temple.

Nanagi Jizoson.

It is said the carving used to be held at 2 temples said to be linked to the Heike Clan.

Nanagi Jizoson.

I was most intrigued by one altar filled with a massive array of different characters, most religious, but a few secular.

Torii gate.

Immediately adjacent to the temple was a mall Hachiman Shrine built on the site of where a temple once stood.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Sunrise wallk to Dainichi-ji Temple 94 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Sunday January 5th 2014. Day 56 of my walk around  Kyushu on the Kyushu Pilgrimage. This will be the last day where I base myself in Kurume, an interesting town that I had never heard of before coming here but which has been my home away from home as I have explored the region.

As I am walking across the bridge to Nagatoishi on the north side of the river the sun comes up behind me.

 I find the first temple, Dainichi-ji, easily enough and it is yet another structure indistinguishable from a house. The ground floor is two open car parking spaces, the second containing some statues and the entrance to the stairs that I presume lead up to the “main hall”.

It was founded in 1985 and at that time was surrounded by rice paddies, though now it has become a suburb of Kurume. In 2010 it became temple 94 on the pilgrimage.

The honzon is Dainichi Nyorai, and there is also a Dainichi statue outside in the entrance area. Inside is said to be a Yakushi, Kobo Daishi, Fudo, and numerous other statues alongside the Dainichi.

There is no reason why a temple must conform to a pre-determined idea of what a temple should look like, but it is disappointing nonetheless. It is also a little too early in the morning to ring the bell and go in so I pay my respects to the statues at the entrance and head off.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Amagi to Tosu. Day 55 Walking Around Kyushu

Saturday, January 4th 2014

It's still dark when I leave my hotel and walk to Kurume Station. I take a train north across the river towards Amagi where I will continue my pilgrimage, but first, get off after a couple of stops at Kitano Station. A few hundred meters from the station is a shrine I want to visit, a branch of Kitano Tenmangu, the first shrine to Sugawara Michizane in Kyoto.

Amagi to Tosu.

 The village here is called Kitano after the shrine's name. That is not unusual, many places in Japan are named after the local shrine or temple. It is quite a big shrine and has a single statue of a white horse, fairly common at shrines, but also has three orange horses,... quite unusual. The walls of the corridors of the shrine are covered with examples of calligraphy, something the Kami Tenjin, the enshrined spirit of Michizane, is known for.

 I jumped back on a train to the last station of the line, Amagi, and when I arrive the sun is up promising another fine day. I had some trouble finding the first pilgrimage temple of the day, Kotokuin,number 7 in the order they are listed. It was located in a suburban area a little north of the station but was not a large temple with a typical large curved roof, but a small single-storey building, so I could not see it from a distance. I asked several passers-by but had no luck. Often in Japan if a place is not famous then even people who live nearby will not know where it is. I find it eventually and there is not much to see. My route now heads west across the wide plain. 

Japan is often characterized as being a mountainous country, and while that is true, there are plenty of wide-open flat areas, this being one of them. While I haven't yet traveled in many parts of Japan, so far in my experience Kyushu seems to have a lot of these flat areas. It is of course mostly farmland, and several times I pass near huge structure with silos. The fields and paddies are also interspersed with small settlements, marked by trees, the largest of the trees often indicate a shrine, none of the ones I visited had any visitors though. The shrines I visited were  Ushiki Tenmangu, Nomachi Takano, Shisojima Tenmangu, Otoguma Tenmangu, and Yokoguma Hayabusataka.

 By lunchtime, it is becoming more urban and I reach temple number 3, Nyoirinji, and it is very busy. It's not a very big temple but is obviously very popular. The most noticeable thing is a large number of frog statues. They are everywhere. In the car park are a line of large metal ones covered in what appears to be graffiti, but what is in fact prayers and wishes. I had hoped to meet with the head priest of the temple, the father of the young priest I had met at temple number 93 some 53 walking days ago, but he was obviously very busy. The grounds did have a nice walk with many fines statues so I leisurely explored before heading off. 

I headed south, now into urban Ogori, and walked parallel to several train lines as well as the main road and expressway. There were several larger shrines to stop at and explore, Rikitake Kamado, Misetaireiseki,  and Ogori Susano. I pass under the East-West expressway and turn west parallel to it.  At a big shrine I am surprised to find many statues of monkeys, not the Three Wise Monkeys, but mostly mother monkeys in red hats holding baby monkeys. It's a Hiyoshi Shrine, a branch of the famous shrine at the base of Mount Hiei whose guardian animal is the monkey.

 In Tashiro I find the last pilgrimage temple of the day, Fudo-in, number 4. It took some finding as it is a small concrete structure in the middle of a crowded suburban area. Nothing much to see except for a nice statue of Fudo Myo O, the temple's namesake. It's now getting late and I head south back toward Kurume. I get as far as Tosu before deciding to call it a day

As usual, I took photos of the many unique manhole covers I saw along the way.

Japan Shop

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Fudoin Temple 4 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage

Fudoin Temple

Fudoin Temple.

Located in the built-up area of Tashiro, close to the old Nagasaki Highway, Fudoin is another of the modern temples on the Kyushu pilgrimage.

Established in 1950, the main hall was built in 1976, and like many urban tempes is a concrete structure with the main hall on the upper floor.

A small shrine to the Eight Dragon Kings.

In the grounds is an Ikime Hachiman Shrine, known for curing eye diseases.

The honzon of the temple is a seated Fudo Myo and in the grounds is a standing Fudo statue, and also a Mizuko Jizo.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Tashiro Yasaka Shrine

Tashiro Yasaka Shrine

Tashiro Yasaka Shrine.

After leaving Ogori Hiyoshi Shrine I continued west along the old Nagasaki kaido and soon crossed over into Saga prefecture.

In Tashiro, which I believe was a post-town on the Nagasaki Highway, I visited the Tashiro Yasaka Shrine. Another branch of the famous Yasaka Shrine in Gion, Kyoto, and previously called Gion Shrine, its primary kami is once again Susano.

Gion Shrine was the origin of the famous Gion Matsuri which began life as a festival to ward off a pestilence that was ravaging Kyoto.

Gion shrines therefore often became established for the purpose of protection against disease, and as disease was seen to come from "outside" a community and travel along roads, it strikes me as why there are so many Gion ( or Yasaka or Susano ) shrines found along the major highways like the Nagasaki Kaido.

This shrine, like all the otheres I had visited this day, was all dressed up in its New Year finery. There was no signboard so I have no info on the shrine.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Ogori Susano Shrine

Ogori Susano Shrine

Ogori Susano Shrine.

After Misetaireiseki Shrine I continued south into the more built-up area of central Ogori and after turning west came upon Ogori Susano Shrine.

Earlier it was known as Gion-sha, a branch of the famous shrine in Gion now called Yasaka Shrine, and now enshrining Susano.

This branch was established in 1353 and moved to its current location in the 16th century. At that time plague was spreading in the surrounding villages but this area was relatively unscathed, and this was attributed to the power of this shrine so peorle came from surrounding areas to pray.

When the nearby expressway was built in 1984 the sale of land enabled the shrine to rebuild the current buuldings.

In the grounds are numerous sub-shrines including Ebisu, Hachiman, and Tenman.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Misetaireiseki Shrine & the Myth of Empress Jingu

Misetaireiseki Shrine & the Myth of Empress Jingu

Misetaireiseki Shrine & the Myth of Empress Jingu.

Heading south from Rikitake I come to the most substantial shrine of the day that is obviously much  more than just a village shrine.

Misetaireiseki Shrine & the Myth of Empress Jingu.

According to the legend, Emperor Chuai, the 14th "emperor", was unusual in several respects. He was the first emperor who was not a son of an emperor. He was also based in Kyushu rather than Yamato in central Japan. According to the Kojiki and Nihongi he reigned in the late 2nd century, but these dates have been known to be out by centuries since the Edo period but are still adhered to in much official literature.

He is said to have had a temporary palace at this spot during his military campaign to subdue the Kumaso tribe. His "wife", later known as Jingu, had a vision and suggested he not attack the Kumaso but rather invade Korea, but he scoffed at the idea.

In the ensuing battle the Kumaso were victorious and Chuai was mortally wounded by a poison arrow. Fearing that news of his death would demoralize the troops, Jingu put on Chuai's armour and led the troops to success. Further north at what is now Kashii Shrine, she announced Chuai's death and then led her troops on an invasion of Sila on the Korean peninsula.

There is absolutely zero historical evidence of such an invasion, but in the 20th century, the Jingu myth was used to justify the occupation of Korea.

According to the myth, she took with her a stone containing the spirit of Chuai, and on her return left it here and founded the shrine to protect Korea.

According to the myth, for the three years of the Korea campaign she was pregnant with Chuai's child and gave birth on her return to a son who became Emperor Ojin. This is where historians divide the Yayoi period from the ensuing Kofun period.

It looks as if the Yayoi period is characterized by immigration and cultural and technological import from southern China, SE Asia, and even the pacific islands, whereas the Kofun period is marked by massive influx of Korean culture and technology......

The third photo is of the rock around which the shrine is based.  The 6th photo is inside the Awashima Shrine in the grounds. Misetaireiseki Shrine is one of only a few shrines in the Chikugo region that were listed in the Engi Shiki, which means it used to be quite important.