Showing posts with label tamana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tamana. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple


The pagoda at Rengein Tanjoji Temple in Tamana, Kumamoto, is one of only two 5-storey pagodas in Kyushu made exclusively out of wood.

It stands 35 meters high and was completed in 1997 after ten yars of construction.

It is made out of Aomori Hiba, a kind of cypress, and is favored for shrine and pagoda construction because of its resistance to insects and humidity.

The pagoda is primarily a Chinese piece of architecture, but in Japan it was modified by having the roofs extend out much further to stop the excessive rainfall of Japan from undermining the foundations.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Rengein Tanjoji Temple


Rengein Tanjoji Temple is a very large and relatively new temple in Tamana that I discovered by accident while walking the Kyushu Pilgrimage. I previously posted on the large gate housing the biggest Shitenno statues in Japan.

After passing through the gate a long, lantern-lined promenade leads to a statue of the founder and the main buildings. In 1930 the priest Zeshin Kawahara was instructed in a vision by Saint Koen to rebuild the temple that had previously stood on this spot. The first building was completed in 1937.

Saint Koen, who is enshrined here, was born on this spot in the late 11th century. He went on to become a monk and rose to be abbot of the great Tendai complex on Mount Hie. His most famous disciple was Honen, the founder of the Pure Land sect.

The original temple was built under orders of Shigemori Taira in the 12th century but was destroyed at the end of the 16th century. The new temple has grown with a 5 storied pagoda being built in 1997 and more recently a Tahoto pagoda.

Later an Okunoin was constructed a few miles away in the mountains. It is also a large complex with impressive buildings and also houses what is said to be the biggest bronze bell in Japan. It is part of the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage that I walked a few years ago. Rengein Tanjoji Temple is the head temple in Kyushu of the Shingon Risshu sect.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Magnificent Shitenno of Renge-in Tanjyoji Temple


Heading out of Tamana in Kumamoto on day 49 of my walk, I spied a tall pagoda, and heading over to investigate discovered this huge temple, Renge0in Tanjyiji. In the next post I will delve into the background of the temple, but for now I will just focus on the splendid gate. 15 meters tall and built solely out of wood in 2011, it houses the 4 Shitenno, the Heavenly Kings, Guardians of the 4 directions.

Standing more than 4 meters in height, they are said to be the biggest Shitenno statues in Japan. Zochoten. Guarding the south, Zochoten is associated with prosperity and spiritual growth. His season is summer, his colour is red, and his element is fire. Depicted with one hand on his hip, and the other holding a pole weapon.

Jikokuten means Guardian of the Nation, and he usually carries a sword and a staff, but not in this statue. He guards the east and his element is water. Associated with strength, he is either blue or green, and his season is spring.

All the Shitenno are depicted stepping on small, demonic creatures called Jaki or Jyaki, symbolizing their suppression of evil.

Tamonten is often known as Bishamonten and was adopted by the samurai and hence acquired an identity as a God of War. Guardian of the north, his element is earth and his color is black. All-knowing and all-hearing he is also associated with wealth and is usually depicted with a pagoda on one hand.

Guardian of the west, Komokuten sees through evil. He is usually depicted holding a scroll and a brush. His colour is white and his element is metal and season is autumn.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Hanegi Hachimangu


After leaving my night time perch at the Tamana Observatory I crossed the Kikuchi River and started to walk through Tamana. The first stop, in the area known as Hanegi, was the hachiman Shrine.... seemingky the most important shrine in the area.

Most impressive was the tower-gate. I'm not sure what the architectural provenance of this style of gate is, though I very much associate them with Hachiman shrines. Hachiman-zukri is an archirecrura style linked to Hachiman shrines, ut it seems to be about a certain roofing style.

This gate was built in the early 17th century, and unusually houses Nio buddhist guardians, somethng more common in Kyushu than in other parts of Japan I believe.

Hachiman shrines are the most common type in japan. Originally linked to the deity of an immigrant group in north Kyushu, and not mentioned in the ancient chronicles, it was heavily influenced by Buddhism and became prevalent nationwide after determining that the deity was in fact a former Emperor, Ojin. Unusual because emperors were not enshrined as kami until the modern period.

There was lots of carving in the woodwork, including several example of "strong men/ sumo wrestler/ demon figures supporting beams. 

During the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigo Takemori's rebel army marched north from theor siege of Kumamoto castle and met an Imperial army in this area. During the battle, Saigo's younger brother was killed by a stray bullet

On a small hill behind the shrine is an Inari Shrine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tamana Observatory


Taman Observatory is a curious structure located on a small hilltop overlooking a sports park and the town of Tamana beyond. It's not so high and the views are not particularly impressive.

More like an oversized, climbable sculpture than a building, it does have a single room inside the central ovoid shape.

As a photographer I found it exciting as I spent a good hour running around taking lots of geometric, abstract shots.

It is yet another of the Kumamoto Artpolis projects, and was completed in 1992, so an offspring of the bubble-era. Like so many similar projects, the lack of use and deteriorating concrete surfaces do not bode well for the future.

If I was a kid with friends, it would be a great place to play hide and seek, and I would imagine it would be suitable for a paintball contest, with lots of different levels and nooks and crannies.

The architect is a young Kagoshima native, Masaharu Takasaki, who does not seem to be very well known but does have a book written about him. I came across another of his projects earlier in my walk when down in Kagoshima.Nanohanakan  Sports Park is quite bizarre, but also excellent for the kind of geometric, abstract photography I am partial to.. 

It was an excellent place to spend the solstice night to see the sunrise