Showing posts with label okayama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label okayama. Show all posts

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sakura Shrine & Kojima Takanori


Sakura Shrine lies along the old Iumo Kaido to the west of what is now Tsuyama City. As I entered I got the feeling that this would turn out to be a "political" shrine from the early days of State Shinto.

I was right. It was established in 1869 and enshrined Emperor Go-Daigo and also Koji Takanori.

The new religion of State Shinto was an attempt to create a "unified nation" of Japan primarily through the symbol of the Imperial system. This was when lots of emperors had shrines built to them, and historians went through history looking for any figures or events that would contribute towards the narrative of an imperial tradition.

Go-Daigo was much revered during the Meiji period because in 1331 he attempted to overthrow the military government of the Kamakura Bafuku and  " restore" direct imperial rule. His plot was discovered and so was deposed and exiled to the Oki Islands.

The route of his journey to exile was along the Izumo Kaido and the military convoy escorting him stayed the night at the fortified residence of the military governor of the area, which is where Sakura Shrine was built.

Koji Takanori was loyal to Go-Daigo and hatched a plan to rescue him, however, his plan was not well thought out and most of his soldiers were scattered over a wide area, unsure of the route the convoy was taking.

Takanori was able to sneak into the property of the military governor, but with too few men was unable to execute any kind of rescue.

He did however carve a ten-character verse to Go-Daigo into the trunk of a cherry tree in the compound, hence the name Sakura shrine.

Like most of the state shinto shrines I found it rather sterile, though it is quite like a largish park. There are numerous shrines to Go-Daigo and also quite a few to Takanori scattered across Japan, but all of them date from the late 19th century.

This was day 5 of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage and the previous post was on Takano Shrine, the Ninomiya of the province.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Nakayama Shrine


It is said that the torii at Nakayama Shrine is unique. At the time of my visit i didn't notice, but now I can see it.

An Ox statue usually signifies Tenjin, the deified spirit of Sugawara Michizane, and he is not one of the main kami enshrined here, but there must be a secondary Tenjin shrine.

Nakayama Shrine is located north of Tsuyama in the area of Ichinomiya, so named because the shrine was the ichinomiya, highest-ranked shrine, in Mimasaka Province.

The Shinmon gate was relocated here from Tsuyama Castle when the castle was dismantled in the early Meiji Period.

Nakayama Shrine was founded in 707. For much of its history it was known as Chuzen Shrine.

The three main kami enshrined are Kagamitsukuri no kami, Ame no nukado no kami, and Ishikori-dome no mikoto, with the first and third of these being associated wit mirrors. In the meiji period the names were changed but then changed back after 1946.

The shrine was destroyed by the Amago Clan in 1533 when they invaded and took over the territory.

Amago Haruhisa rebuilt the shrine in 1559.

The main buildings date from this time and are considered to be nakayama-zukuri, a style unique to the immediate vicinity.

The previous post was Tsuyama Snapshots, photos taken on my way to the shrine.

A large sacred keyaki tree, zelkova in English, is said to be 800 years old. It has a trunk diameter of 8 meters.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine is literally right at the base of the massive stone fortifications that made up Tsuyama Castle.

It was originally a sub-shrine of Tsuyama Hachimangu which stood on the hill, and is said to have been founded in 934, but when the Mori Clan took over the domain and started constructing the castle in 1604 it was moved.

Actually it was moved several times but in 1683 made its final move to the current location.

Being an Inari shrine, the guardians are foxes, with red hats and scarves rather than bibs.

I visited at the end of July and a Chinow was in place inside the torii. These purification hoops can be found at different times of the year nowadays, but as I encountered one a few days earlier it seems that this time of the year is the norm in Okayama.

The roosters on the ema suggest they have been hanging there for nine years.

The main hall dates back to when the shrine was moved here in 1683 and is an Important Cultural Property of the city.

The Hanya carving is quite unusual and is there for protection.

As is common at Inari shrines, there are a lot of smaller, Inari shrines in the grounds.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage and the previous post in the series is Tsuyama Castle.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Tsuyama Castle Okayama

Tsuyama Castle 津山城

Tsuyama Castle Okayama.

Tsuyama castle, in the mountains of Okayama prefecture, is not a very well-known castle, but during the Edo period it was considered one of the greatest in all of Japan.

Its claim to greatness came from the sheer number of fortification structures that were ued in its construction. It was in a real sense extremely over-engineered.


Covering the flat hilltop, it was built on three levels with a total of 77 turrets (yagura), 26 gates, and topped with a 5-storey tower/keep.


The impressive stonework remains, but all the wooden structures were destroyed in the early years of Meiji, when most Japanese castles were dismantled. A few years later, however, some of the gates were reconstructed, and in the 1930's a fake keep was built but it was taken down during WWII as an obvious landmark for bombers.


In 2005 the rather grand Bitchu Turret was rebuilt and the tatami-floored interior is open to the public.


500 cherry trees have been planted in the castle grounds and are now a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot.


A castle was built on this site in the mid 15th century by the Yamana clan, but it was abandoned. In 1603 the domain was given to Mori Tadamasa and it was he who spent 12 years constructing the new, massive fortress.


According to Shogunate regulations, 5, or more, storey keeps were not allowed, but when the inspectors came to view the new castle Mori had the roof removed from the fifth storey and therefore claimed it was only 4 storeys. Apparently, he got away with it.


At the end of the 17th century, the castle passed to the Matsudaira Clan who held it until the end of the domains in the late 19th Century.


Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle, a flat hilltop castle, as opposed to a Hirajiro, flatland castle, or a Yamajiro, mountain castle. Other notable Hirayama-style castles include Himeji and Matsuyama.

Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage. The previous post in this series was Bridges of Shurakuen Gardens.

Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Arata Isozaki 1933 - 2022

Arata Isozaki 1933 - 2022

The famous Japanese architect Arata Isozaki passed away on December 28th, 2022.

Born in Oita, Kyushu, in 1933, he studied at Tokyo University.

Born in Oita, Kyushu, in 1933, he studied at Tokyo University and then worked under Kenzo Tange for a few years before opening his own office.

He won the RIBA Gold Medal in 1986 and the Pritzker Prize in 2019.

His earliest works seem heavily influenced by Brutalism and Metabolist styles, though his later works utilized many different styles. His works have been built all over Asia, Europe, and the USA.

He won the RIBA Gold Medal in 1986 and the Pritzker Prize in 2019.

He won the RIBA Gold Medal in 1986 and the Pritzker Prize in 2019.

Arata Isozaki 1933 - 2022.

I quite like his work and have seen many of his buildings here in Western Japan.

Born in Oita, Kyushu, in 1933, he studied at Tokyo University.

The top photo is the Kitakyushu City Museum of Art 1972-74. I have visited it several times and will do a post on it soon. The second photo is from his hometown of Oita and was the Oita Prefectural Library which opened in 1966. After closing down it was converted into an arts centre called Art Plaza. I have 2 posts on it, one of the exterior, and a second of the interiors. The Art Plaza contains a gallery of Isozakis architectural drawings and models, so is worth a visit.


The third photo is part of the Kitakyushu International Conference Centre in Kokura, Adjacent to it is an earlier work, the West Japan General Exhibition Centre, a massive building and the photo above shows the structure that holds the roof up. The fourth photo is from the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art in rural Okayama. Very unusual in that each of the three main buildings were designed in collaboration with artists who created the works within, including Isozaki's own wife. The three buildings I posted earlier are called Sun, Earth, and Moon. The fifth photo is part of the curved roof of the Yamaguchi Centre for Arts & Media. 


The sixth photo is also from Yamaguchi and is part of the very rural Akiyoshidai International Arts Village. I will do a full post on it soon, and I will also do a full post on the Kitakyushu City Central Library, pictured above. The final photo is the JR station at the onsen resort of Yufuin, one of Isozaki's smaller projects.

Arata Isozaki 1933 - 2022.