Showing posts with label mitarai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mitarai. Show all posts

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mitarai Tenmangu

Mitarai Tenmangu is located at the back of what used to be the main brothel area of Mitarai, and was popular with the working girls.

Legend says that the mythical Empress Jingu stopped at the well here and washed her hands and that this is where the towns name came from. In the Meiji period a Tenmangu shrine was built here supposedly as Sugawara Michizane also stopped at the well and washed his hands.

The fact that Tenjin was not enshrined here until Meiji suggest to me that maybe it was a strategy to protect the local shrine. In late Meiji the government set about closing down half the shrines in the country, mostly local, nature based shrines. One way to stop your shrine being closed down was to enshrine a "national" god , like Tenjin.

There is a curious monument to a local Mitarai man, Harukichi Nakamura, who was the first Japanese to cycle all the way around the world. which he apparently did in the early years of Meiji.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Otomeza Theater Mitarai


The Otomeza Theater in Mitarai on Osaki Shimojima is a fine example of a small provincial theater from early in the twentieth Century.


It was built in 1930 when the port had become less important than in the days of wind, but was still important as an "entertainment" area.


In 1950 it switched to being a movie theater, but following the outlawing of prostitution in 1956 the town went into serious decline and the theater closed. For a while it was used as a vegetable market.


It has been lovingly restored to its former glory and is a rare example of the kind of small theater that were found all over Japan. Like all thge historic sites in the town, entrance is free.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sumiyoshi Shrine, Mitarai


Mitarai, on Osaki Shimojima in the Inland Sea grew into a major seaport in the mid 17th Century. Initially it was a good spot for boats to  wait for favorable winds and tides, but prospered by offering services that the sailors desired.


The Sumiyoshi Shrine on the waterfront dates from this time.


Sumiyoshi shrines are noted for offering protection for those undertaking sea journeys. The original Sumiyoshi shrine is in Hakata which was the main point of embarkation for mainland Asia. The Sumiyoshi shrine established in what is now Osaka, the main port serving the capitals of Yamato, is now considered the head shrine.


The three main kami are the Sumiyoshi "brothers", Sokotsutsuno, Nakatsutsuno, & Uwatsutsuno, who according the the standard mythology were created when Izanagi purified himself after visiting Izanami in Yomi. It is possible they represent the three main starts of the Orion Constellation which were used for navigation. Later Empress Jingu was added,.


Monday, April 6, 2015

More Mitarai


Mitarai, a small port on Osaki Shimozima Island in the Inland Sea is a truly delightful step back in time. Much of the small town is an Historic Preservation District containing Edo period buildings and narrow lanes. Hopefully the character of the town will not be lost now that it is possible to reach it easily by car from the mainland. I will post some more on specific location sites in the town but for now a few more general shots.


This gentleman used to be a boatbuilder but now his boats are miniature replicas.


There are quite a few of these districts throughout Japan that are still far enough off the main tourist routes that they can be enjoyed quietly.


The product that brought prosperity to the port was sex. More on that later.


A small shop had this pair of masks on display, though they appear to me to be Namahage, which are not local but from the north of Japan.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mitarai Historic Preservation District


Mitarai at the eastern edge of Osaki Shimojima in the Inland Sea was once a major port, due in large part to its sheltered anchorage that enable many ships to safely wait for the winds to change to continue on with their journey.


The port prospered as daimyo as well as foreign embassies stopped here on their way to Edo. It also became a transhipment point in the Inland Sea and so warehouses and trading houses became established.


Mitarai was spared the development that plagued much of Japan in the latter half of the twentieth century and much of the architecture harks back to the Edo period. It is now a designated Historic Preservation District.


One of the preserved buildings is from what was perhaps the most important "product" of the town..... sex!..... at its peak about 20% of the inhabitants were prostitutes, and one of the brothels is now a tourist attraction...... more on that later....