Showing posts with label omori. Show all posts
Showing posts with label omori. Show all posts

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Ido Shrine


Ido Shrine in Omori, part of the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Site, was established in 1888 and worships the deified spirit of Ido Heizaimon, a former magistrate of the district who is known as the "Potato Magistrate".

He became the magistrate of the district in 1731, and in the following year, the Kyoho Famine struck western Japan. Officially there were 12,000 deaths attributed to the famine but in reality, the number was much higher, probably about 169,000. The causes of the famine seem to have been a combination of bad weather and insect infestation leading to a massive increase in the price of rice.

Before receiving permission from the Shogunate, Ido opened the government granaries and distributed the rice to the local population, but mostly he is known for introducing Sweet Potato into the region, hence ensuring that no one in Iwami died from famine.

There are more than 500 monuments in Shimane, Tottori, Okayama, and Hiroshima to the introduction of sweet potatoes by him.

On this visit I was walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage and the previous post was on the 500 rakan of Rakanji Temple.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

500 Rakan at Iwami Ginzan


Rakan, sometimes called arhats, are said to be the disciples of the historical Buddha, and groups of 500 statues representing them can be found all over Japan.

The collection of 500 rakan found in Omori, part of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, is unusual in that they are housed in several man-made caves dug into a hillside by miners working at the silver mine.

The rakan here at Iwami Ginzan were made to pray for the repose of the souls of those miners who died, and as the work was brutal and harsh, the life of a miner was usually quite short, which is why there were so many temples in the area.

One feature of Rakan is that every single one has a different features and expressions, and it is often said that while looking at rakan statues you will always find some that remind you of someone you know. The rakan here are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

All the rakan here were made over a period of about 25 years and were completed in 1766. They were all attributed to a stonemason from nearby Fukumitsu with the pseudonym Toshitada, who is also credited with creating the 3 arched bridges that cross the stream to reach the rakan caves. It is thought that members of his family and other apprentices had a hand in the work

Rakan-ji Temple was established across from the rakan caves in 1764. It is a Shingon temple and the honzon is an Amida. A Yakushi hall was moved to the grounds from higher up in the valley.

Rakanji Temple is one of 10 "guest temples" on the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage. Kannon pilgrimages usually have 36 main temples and a few "extra" temples, but this Iwami pilgrimage has a total of 49 temples so is often referred to as Iwami Mandala Pilgrimage.

The previous post in this series was Seisuiji Temple, located further up the valley closer to the mine. A recent post that also featured rakan statues  was Togakuji Temple in Matsue.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

A Stroll Though Omori


Omori is a major part of the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Sites in the mountains of western Shimane. Before it became a World Heritage Site it had been listed as a Preservation District because so many historical buildings were still extant.

It is a 40 minute drive from my home, and for many years a good friend lived in the town so I have spent a lot of time there.

This was the administrative headquarters for the silver mining operation. This is where the samurai who controlled the mine lived and worked. It was also home to the many merchants and other trades, but it was not the home of the actual miners. They lived in hovels up in the mountains at the actual mines.

It is actually one of the better preservation districts because it is so extensive and not marred by aboveground powerlines. There are a couple of shops and places to eat but by and large, it is not so very commercialized.

On this visit I was on the 4th day of my walk along the Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage and there was a small a cluster of temples here. Historically it was the starting point for the pilgrimage, but the modern version follows a different route and has a little different set of temples. Recently discovered documents at an old samurai home near my house also show another Kannon pilgrimage just covering the territory of the silver mine and not the whole of the Iwami Province.

There are a couple of homes open to the public, and an enormous number of temples, necessary for the many funerals that resulted from the brutal life of a being a miner, though many have closed down now.

The previous post in this series on the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage was Kanzeonji Temple in the lower part of town. Two earlier posts on the preservation district of Omori, and the facades of the preservation district, if you are interested.

This final photo is a great example of kote-e, plaster relief, found on the "treasure house" of one of the temples.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Iwami Mandala Kannon Kanzeonji Temple


Kanzeonji Temple is located on top of a rocky outcropping right in the middle of the historic town of Omori and offers great rooftop views over the World Heritage site.

The miners have carved niches into the rock face for several altars holding statues. The hinzon of the temple is a Kannon

It is one of the "extra" temples on the Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage and I visited on this occasion on day four of my walk along that pilgrimage route. Kannon pilgrimages usually consist of 33 main temples and maybe three "extra" temples, but this pilgrimage has at least a dozen "extra" temples over and above the main 33, which is probably why it is called Mandala.

It is worth the short climb up, not only for the views of the town, but for the rather fine pair of Nio guardians.

The previous post in this series was Iwami Hachimangu.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Omori in 2D


Most the photos in the previous post on Omori used perspective quite strongly.

For this series, I want to concentrate more on flat, two-dimensional compositions.

Traditional Japanese architecture  tends to have quite pleasing proportions and ratios, as well as combinations and contrasts of differing texture. and I think this is true of many traditional architectures around the world.

The vast majority of new Jaoanese houses are quite ugly.

Another thing that contributes to this flat, geometric comosition is the decoration done by the inhabitants of a building.

Sometimes these are quite formal and follow a rigid set of rules.

At other times they can be quite individualistic and idiosyncratic.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Omori Historic Preservation District


Omori is a small village that was the administrative centre for the Iwami Ginzan silver mine, and is therefore a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

However, before it became a World Heritage site it was a Historic Preservation District. Actually the correct designation is "Groups of  Traditional Buildings", but I prefer to use the former.

Before it became a World Heritage site I spent a lot of time in Omori, but since its UNESCO listing I rarely go back anymore, but when I do I am increasingly impressed.

The best thing they did was remove all the goddam ugly power lines and cables, and combined with banning motor vehicles, it makes it a far more pleasant experience. It also helps that Omori is rarely crowded.

I've visited dozens and dozens of these preservation district throughout western Japan, and Omori is one of the best. For a start it is one of the biggest,.... some of them are really quite small.

Secondly there is quite a range of buildings in terms of size and style.

Some of the preservation districts in touristy areas have become quite gentrified and are occupied by cafes and restauraans and such, and in other areas, notable remote, rural sites, most of the historic buildings are empty and uninhabited.

Omori strikes a good balance between these two.

Finally, they continue to restore buildings in Omori.

So far I have not osted anything on many of the preservation districts I have explored, but a few can be found by clicking this link.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Autumn in Omori


After leaving Chokoji Temple it was just half an hours drive u to Omori In Iwami Ginzan. On arrival we were treated to a classic Autimn scene,.... harvested rice in front of a thatched farmhouse.

Omori is the most visited of the haf dozen sites that make u the Iwami Ginzan UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the settlement below the mine where the merchants, samurai, and bureaucrats lived.

Omori is primarily a long, single street alongside a small stream. We started at the top of the village and walked down to the bottom where the most important people lived.

There are a couple of side lanes that usually lead to temples, and its here that you find a kittle autumn color.

However, at the bottom of the village is the main shrine, and here we found an abundance of Autumn colr, so that will be next up.....