Showing posts with label snake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snake. Show all posts

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Yet More Deities at Myo-on-ji Temple


This is the 4th and final post on Myo-on-ji temple. It is not a famous temple, nor particularly ancient or large. However, it does have a large number of statues in numerous small shrines, due to the fact that it is a pilgrimage temple on the Sasaguri 88 temple pilgrimage in Fukuoka.

Myo-on-ji was the 11th temple we had visited since starting to walk the pilgrimage. It had raken just under 2 hours since starting at Sasaguri Station, and by now I had come to realize that there were going to be a lot of very diverse statuary tp be seen over the next 4 days.

I started out by posting some photos of Fudo Myo, one of my favorite deities, and a figure that is very common on this pilgrimage. So much so that my second post was a much larger selection of Fudo statues at Myo-on-ji, with one of my wordiest posts where I try to explain the complexity and diversity of Japanese deity identities. The third post was on a variety of statues of Kannon, another very popular deity, technically a bodhisattva.

This time I show another group of statues, mostly multi-armed, multi-headed, fierce deities that originated in India. The top photo is Aizen Myo, among other things associated with sex and love. The next three might be various Myo..... or not..... If I was to dig into it I might be able to say with some certainty the names and classifications of these deities, but I don't have the time. Probably some readers would know.

Statues of snakes, often with offerings of coins, are commonly associated with Benzaiten, the complex Buddhist-Shinto deity that among other things is often associated with water and many times is conflated with Suijin, the water god. I have also seen these snake statues at altars to Kojin the land god in Izumo.

Thgis final photo is another deity I cannot immediately identify. though for some reason I seem to think it might actually be a Bato kannon......

From Myo-on-ji the pilgrimage route heads up into the mountains and the temples ar further apart, but some are much bigger than any yet visited...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Some Art at Kanaya Tenmangu

Kanaya Tenmangu shrine is located just outside what used to be the gate into Hagi castle and was where the the Daimyo and official travellers would stop and pray for a safe journey, consequently it received many paintings and such as offerings.

The paintings of horses may well be an earlier version of "ema", votive plaques that were paintings of horses as a substitute for giving a real horse. The coiled snake painting is probably connected to Benzaiten.

One of the things I look for when visiting small, local shrines is the artwork.

The final photo is one of the Zuijin at the shrine. A signboard showed picture of the Buddhist Nio guardians that guarded the shrine until the Meiji Period.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sacred White Snake

White snakes are considered sacred in Japan, and are mostly associated with Benzaiten. I posted before on some white snakes found at Iwakuni.

This one however was on Okinawa at the sacred "power spot" Dai Sekirinzan at the far north of the main island.

Though now part of Japan, Okinawa did not share the ancient myths and gods of Japan, having their own traditions that are more connected to Chinese myths and legends than Japan.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Friday, January 18, 2013


The most poisonous snake in Japan is the Mamushi, also the most common. Gloydius Bomhoffii is a pit-viper and is found all over.

About ten people a year die from its bite, though several thousand get bitten. I see them around my house and in the garden all the time, and as anyone who knows me will know I quite like snakes and do not have the irrational fear of them that many seem afflicted with.

My neighbor catches them and puts them in jars of sake to make a drink called Mamushi Zake. Though many will refer to it as a "tonic", the main use of Mamushi zake is as a viagra equivalent.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Year of the Snake


2013 is the Year of the Snake so I thought I would post some pics of that most lucky of all snakes, the White Snake. Long associated with Benzaiten, one of the 7 Lucky Gods of Japan, white snakes have appeared in many stories and legends throughout history, in all probabilty albino mutations of regular snake species, but the trait is not passed on to descendants.


But Iwakuni in Hiroshima is home to the unique Iwakuni White Snake, the only place in the country where they appear and a registered national monument.


They are first recorded as appearing in the 18th century, and are a mutation of the common Japanese rat Snake, Elaphe climocophora.

Best wishes for the coming year to all my readers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Walk to Suga. Part 3


This is the third and final part of a walk I took last May up in Izumo. The previous 2 posts can be found in the links below this post.

Walking along any road, in a city, in the country, or up in the mountains, you can't go far without passing a buddhist altar by the side of the road. Sometimes there is a single statue, usually Jizo, and sometimes several. Even in the most remote locations one can see signs of recent offerings.


May is a wonderful time to go walking in the countryside. The paddies have been filled and the reflections make for wonderful mirrored scenes.


This day there were a lot of snakes on the roads..... the filled paddies bring out the frogs, and the frogs bring out the snakes.

I passed several small shrines to Kojin, the land-god represented as a snake.

Also passed a nice shrine with many secondary shrines in the grounds. Unusually all the secondary shrines had signboards


Finally I arrived in the village of Suga, and here was my destination, Suga Shrine.

It was here, according to legend, that Susano and Kushinada settled after the defeat of Yamata no Orochi. It was here also that Susano composed what is considered the first Tanka.....

Many clouds rise up
clouds appear to form a fence
holding this couple;
They form layers of a fence
Oh, the layers of that fence.


Because of its out of the way location Suga Shrine does not receive so many visitors, but enough that a Miko is on duty most days.

Like many shrines there are a pair of giant cedar trees straddling the entrance.


I carry on down the road towards Daito. I have a sleeping bag with me, but I see that there will be a bus in a few minutes that will take me back into Matsue in time to catch a train home, so I decide to leave Daito to another day.

I walked about 25k in 7 hours and visited 12 shrines......... another good day...

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Walk to Suga


The weather during May remained unseasonably cool, so I talk advantage and went on another exploratory walk. I started in Nogi, now little more than a suburb of Matsue. A cookie-cutter town of convenience stores, pachinko parlors, and drab, utilitarian buildings.

My route was to roughly follow Route 24 up the Inbe River and over into the watershed of the Hi River around Suga.


After about 30 minutes I was in the foothills on narrow lanes with mostly older, more traditional houses. The person in this house is obviously really into bonsai!

As usual I stopped in at all the shrines along the way.


In the village of Noshira I found this that looks like a shrine, but is in fact a "kyo", translated as "church". Its a branch of Izumo Yashirokyo, a religion started by the then head priest of Izumo Taisha in the late 19th Century when the state basically told priests to stop preaching or dealing with "religious" matters. If they wanted to deal with religious issues they should found their own churches. The state had appropriated the Torii symbol, so only "shinto" shrines could have a torii, so many of the shinto-based Kyo simply use a simple gate with one crosspiece.


Also in Noshira I found an interesting shrine with a huge mask of Uzume or Otafuku. As Uzume is one of the kami enshrined here it is most likely her.


And then, paydirt!!!!! I found 2 examples of something I search for and hope to find on my backcountry explorations, a pair of Phalli!

I chatted for a while with a lady visiting the shrine, but she professed to not know anything about them, which may be true, but its more likely that she didn't want to talk about them with a foreigner.

I have an extensive collection of photos from small fertility shrines I've visited, but I've hesitated to post any as about half the visitors to this blog are from a certain North American country wherein many citizens react strangely to such topics. They either get offended and indignant, or they react like giggling Elementary schoolgirls.

Anyway, to have found these two really made my day and my steps had more spring to them.....


Route 24 is a fairly busy, 2 -lane road, that has been straightened a lot and bypasses many smaller settlements. I chose to walk the old sections of road that snake along the river. Its a longer walk, but there is almost no traffic, often the things to be discovered are in the small villages, and I'm more likely to meet friendly people. Sure enough I soon came upon a small unmarked shrine to Kojin with the rope serpent wrapped around the base of a tree. It looked like nobody had visited the shrine in a few years.


There were a lot of snakes of the non-rope variety out and about. This one was a bit over a meter in length. No idea what species it was, though if it was a 4-lined Rat snake I wouldnt be surprised.