Showing posts with label masks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label masks. Show all posts

Friday, February 2, 2024

Kakaji Betsugu Hachiman Shrine


Kakaji is a town on the north side of the Kunisaki peninsula, and the Hachiman Shrine is te main shrine of the town.

The approach to the shrine crosses a stone-arched bridge across the Takeda River.

Built in the mid 19th century, this type of bridge was rare in the area.

The shrine is set in a forest of pines, and its main feature is an impressive two-storey gate.

One of the komainu guarding the approach is unusual in that it is standing upon a turtle. I can't remember having seen that before.

The main gate has numerous relief carvings.

Many sources suggest the gate may have been built in the late Edo period, but the late 19th century is more likely.

The gate houses two Zuijin, Shinto guardians.

They are unusual in that they are carved out of stone, not wood. I have seen other stone zuijin in the Kunisaki area, but not elsewhere.

The shrine was established in the early 8th century, before the  Hachiman cult spread to the Kinki region with its connection to the founding of Todaiji.

It is one of 5 "betsugu" of Usa Hachimangu. Bestsugu is often translated as "branch", but the relationship is stronger and more direct than that. Maybe "annex" would be more accurate.

As a Hachiman shrine it is now considered to enshrine Ojin, his mother Jingu, and a consort.

The three Munakata "sisters" are also enshrined here.

I visited at the end of my second day walking around the Kunisaki area following the old Kunisaki pilgrimage trail while starting the Kyushu Fudo pilgrimage. The previous post was on my walk from Oreki Temle to Kakaji.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Yakumo Honjin Museum


Yakumo Honjin is a large, Edo-period residence formerly owned by the Kowata Family that also functioned as a honjin, a guesthouse for the Daimyo while he was traveling. It has aso been epanded with the addition of various high-ranking samurai residences that were dismantled and moved from Matsue.

I previously posted  more info and a series of photos of the interiors. This time I will show you some of the displays of artworks and artifacts that were owned by the family.

There was the obligatory suit of samurai armour, but no swords. There was a palanqui, pictured above, and a series of lanterns.

Much of the art in traditonal Japanese residences was in the form of painted folding screens and painted sliding doors, some examples of which you can see in the previous post, but I was intrigued by this object. Not sure what it is, but seems to be a crane ridden by I presume a Daoist "immortal".

There were quite a few examples of hanging scroll paintings.

However, the most interesting displays for me were the collection of old masks. The first is either a tengu or Sarutahiko. The second one of the "strong men" heroes, and the third a Kitsune, fox.

Yakumo Hoinjin is located in Shinji about halfway between Izumo and Matsue, on the south shore of Lake Shinji.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Masks of Taketomi Island


Taketomi Island is a small island just off Ishigaki Island in the chain of islands now called Okinawa. It is most well known for the water buffalo-drawn carts (click here) that take tourist around the small village which is a preservation district.

Being a mask-maker myself, though admittedly somewhat lapsed, I was intrigued by the masks in the local folklore museum that was housed in the villages small buddhist temple.

There are obvious similarities with the masks I found on nearby Ishigaki Island (click here)

There are also some similarities between Okinawan masks and Japanese masks, with the mask below very similar to a Hannya mask.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Tashibu Motomiya Hachimansha


The Kunisaki Peninsula is one of my most favorite places, one reason being that some of the cultural revolution that took place at the end of the 19th Century was somewhat ignored here. I am referring to the artificial separation of shrines and temple.

Many of the shrines here still have Buddhist guardians, usually made of stone. Most shrines will also have a small graveyard attached to it.

I am on my first day walking along an ancient yamabushi pilgrimage route that, for me, is also the start of the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage. Much of this area was a base for a type of shugendo that mixed Tendai Buddhism with Hachiman shinto.

Another great attraction here for me is that many of the shrines still have old, wooden masks on display.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Kanmai Masks at Hirakiki Shrine

One of the things I am always on the lookout for in my wanderings in the back country of Japan, are masks. Being a mask-maker myself, though admittedly somewhat lapsed, I look for the unusual and diverse that can inform my own masks.....

At Hirakiki Shrine in the far south of Kagoshima Prefecture I hit paydirt. They had 24 old wooden masks on display. In a back room I also saw a collection of newer masks that the priest let me in to view, but today here are some of the old ones.

I wish I had talked with the priest more, but what I have been able to find out is that the masks were worn for Kanmai, which translates as "god dance"... they don't use the word kagura. There used to be a lot more dances performed, but some still are, in October.

Traditions in this part of Japan were usually somewhat different from mainstream Japan.

I'm sorry I didn't ask about the names of the masks....

Need to get back there and do some research..... one of these days.....

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Masks of Ishigaki Island

Masks of Ishigaki

Ishigaki is a small island that is part of what is now Okinawa, though it is much closer to Taiwan than to the main island of Okinawa.

The Ishigaki Shiritsu Yaeyama Museum is a local history museum that had some masks among the displays, and masks are objects I seek out when traveling around Japan.

I know little about Okinawan masks, but it looks like these three are some form of ogre.

I believe the second photo show Angama masks which are worn during Obon. The bottom photo is a Shishi.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tengu Masks in the Kirishima Mask Museum

Kirishima Mask Museum

The mask museum in Kirishima was called "Tengu-kan", and obviously there were a lot of masks of tengu on display. Most of which were the red-faced long nose variety.

Probably the earlier version of Tengu was more birdlike in appearance, like the one in the top center of the photo below. The long nosed version is probably derived from Sarutahiko, the earthy kami who helped lead Ninigi and his entourage from the High Plain of Heaven. he later married Uzume and a mask of Sarutahiko and Uzume are often found together at shrines, often linked to fertility.

Tengu are often connected to Yamabushi, the mysterious mountain monks who practised austerities and magic in the remote sacred mountains. A distinguishing feature is the tokin, the small black headgear worn on the top of the forehead. It is said this was to protect the head while walking through the forest. It was also used as a drinking vessel.

The museum is located near the entrance to Kirishima Jingu Shrine up in the mountains of northern Kagoshima and if you are visiting the area and like masks then is a must see.

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