Showing posts with label tengu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tengu. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Inori no Sato Religious Roadside Attraction


Coming down from Unzen Hot Springs towards Obama on the coast of Tachibana Bay, the road is steep and without any settlements until just above the town.

Inori no Sato is sometimes described as a park, sometimes as a roadside rest area, but it looks like some kind of religious roadside attraction with a wide range of statues and altars, and yet is not a temple or shrine.

It is sometimes referred to as Unzen Daibutsu Inori no Sato because of the Buddha statue seen in photo 2, which was made by the same sculptor who created the Ushiku Great Buddha in Ibaraki.

That was a standing figure 120 meters tall, whereas the statue here is a seated figure only 3 meters high including the base.

There are several statues of Kannon, photos 3 & 7, and several Fudo Myo statues, photos 6 & 14.

Under a gazebo in the middle of the park is an impressive statue of a Dragon grasping a golden sphere, photo 5, with a smaller version, photo 8. This is a common symbol across East Asia. The Secven Lucky Gods, shichifukujin, also make an appearance, photo 4.

Various figures from the world of Yokai make an appearance, including a Kappa Pond, photo 9, and a giant red Tengu mask, photo 10.

No overview of Japanese popular religion would be complete without an Inari Shrine, photo 11, a small collection of monkey statues probably related to the Koshin cult, photo 13, and a statue of Shotoku Taishi, photo 12.

There seems to be an emphasis on praying for good luck, success, and other "this worldly benefits", known as genze riyaku in Japanese.

Not shown in these photos is a miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage with 88 small statues, and a pair of "sexual" statues based on Dosojin.

There is no entry fee, though offertory boxes stand in front of all of the statues, and no sect or religion is being pushed. The whole thing was funded by a local businessman, Mr Takujima.

It seems he is the chairman of a successful construction company and Inori no Sato is his attempt to contribute to the well-being and perhaps revitalization of the local area.

The previous post was on the Unzen Hells.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Monjuin Temple & Emon Saburo


Monjuin is a small temple to the south of Matsuyama City that is the 9th bangai, or bekkaku, temple on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage known as Ohenro. bangai are the 20 "extra" temples on top of the 88 regular temples of the pilgrimage.

Monjuin is located between temples 47, Yasakiji, and 48, Saitinji, and was built on the site of the former home of a man called Emon Saburo, whose legend is connected with the foundation of the pilgrimage itself and also the practice of osettai, the giving of alms to pilgrims.

According to the story, Emon Saburo was a very wealthy merchant and one day a mendicant monk asked him for alms. He refused and also broke the begging bowl of the monk who was actually Kobo Daishi himself.

After each of his 8 sons fell ill and died, Emon realized it was caused by his actions against Kobo Daishi and so set off around Shikoku to try and catch up with him to ask for forgiveness. A burial mound near temple 46, Joruji, is said to be the grave of his 8 sons.

After completely traveling around Shikoku twenty times and failing to meet up with Kobo Daishi he decided to reverse his direction of travel and go in an anti-clockwise direction.

On the mountainside between temples 11 and 12 in Tokushima, Emon, exhausted and close to death, collapsed. Kobo Daishi appeared and granted him absolution. He asked to be reborn into a wealthy family so that he could restore a neglected temple.

Later a child was born clutching a stone inscribed with the words "Emon Saburo is reborn". Such a stone is on display at temple 51 Ishiteji, in Matsuyama.

The honzon at Monju-in is a "secret" Monju Bosatsu. I was quite impressed with the number of statues and reliefs on display in the grounds of such a small temple.

The previous post in the series was Yasakaji Temple

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Great Camphor Tree at Horakuji Temple


In the grounds of Horakuji Temple is a huge, ancient kusunoki tree. Estimated to be about 800 years old, it is officially the second oldest tree in Osaka, one in Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine being older.

Its dimensions are impressive. 26 meters tall and a similar size for the spread. The circumference of the trunk is 8 meters. It is said the tree can be seen from 8 kilometer away.

On one side at its base is a small Inari shrine with a few small vermillion torii leading to it. On the trunk, above a shimenawa is a Tengu mask.

Also at its base is an altar to Fudo Myo, 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Yatsushiro Shrine

Yatsushiro Shrine

Yatsushiro Shrine is the major shrine of Yatsushiro in Kumamoto and was established towards the end of the heian Period. Until 1868 it was known as Myoken Shrine and enshrined Myoken, a Buddhist deity who was a manifestation of the Pole Star and Big Dipper. Myoken Shrine was in the middle of a complex of more than a dozen temples.

The Pole Star and Big Dipper figure in most ancient religions of the northern hemisphere, and in Japan in its earliest form seems to have been primarily Daoist. Myoken, the Buddhist version, seems to have arrived later and one credible source suggest that here in Yatsushiro was where it was introduced from the continent,

There were hundreds of Myoken shrines throughout Japan and in 1868 they were all renamed and 2 obscure shinto kami were enshrined in them, Amenominakanushinokami, and Kuninotokotachino. Like much of the "new" shinto of modern Japan it was Hirata Atsutane who decided this.

The current buildings at yatsushiro Shrine date from early and mid Edo period. It is thye home of the Yatsushiro Myokensai, one of the most important festivals in Kyushu. More info about Myoken can be found on my posts about Nose Myokensan, here and here.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tengu Masks in the Kirishima Mask Museum

Kirishima Mask Museum

The mask museum in Kirishima was called "Tengu-kan", and obviously there were a lot of masks of tengu on display. Most of which were the red-faced long nose variety.

Probably the earlier version of Tengu was more birdlike in appearance, like the one in the top center of the photo below. The long nosed version is probably derived from Sarutahiko, the earthy kami who helped lead Ninigi and his entourage from the High Plain of Heaven. he later married Uzume and a mask of Sarutahiko and Uzume are often found together at shrines, often linked to fertility.

Tengu are often connected to Yamabushi, the mysterious mountain monks who practised austerities and magic in the remote sacred mountains. A distinguishing feature is the tokin, the small black headgear worn on the top of the forehead. It is said this was to protect the head while walking through the forest. It was also used as a drinking vessel.

The museum is located near the entrance to Kirishima Jingu Shrine up in the mountains of northern Kagoshima and if you are visiting the area and like masks then is a must see.

Buy Handmade Masks From Japan

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Masks at Nobusatohachimangu Shrine

The Masks at Nobusatohachimangu Shrine

Towards the end of my second day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage I was coming into the outskirts of Oda City and stopped in at the Hachimangu Shrine in Nobusato village.

One thing I am always on the lookout for at shrines are masks, and, like many village shrines in rural Japan, this one was not locked so I could go in and look around and found quite a few masks. The mask in the first photo was nice, but not unusual. The second was an unusual style that I had seen several times in the past few days and is specific to this area.

The next one was a standard Tengu mask done in Iwami kagura style, almost exactly like ones I myself have made, but the next one was back to the local style and is, I believe, a karasu tengu.

The final pair were in standar Iwami kagura style and were the old married couple, the mother and father of Kushinada Hime, the maiden rescued from the serpent Yamata Orochi by Susano.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tengu Dakiniten Fudo Myo

Last weekend I was visiting the priest at Takuhi Shrine on Nishinoshima in the Oki Islands. I was intrigued by the print of Fudo Myo hanging in the priests house, even though this was a shrine. Upon closer examination it turned out to be quite an unusual Fudo. Standing on a white fox, it was conflated with Dakiniten, the Hindu deity quite popular with the rulers in Heian Japan, and one of the sources of Inari. It also had wings and the face of a crow, and was therefore also a Karasu Tengu.

Seeing my interest, the priest went next door and brought back this old painting which showed a more traditional long-nosed Tengu/ Yamabushi.

The shrine is located under a cliff high on the mountain, and was a temple until the Meiji Period when it "became" a shrine and therfore sparing it the destruction that happened to every other temple on the islands.

I found several smaller shrines around the mountain and the highest one was a Sanjin Shrine which the priest assured me was to Tengu.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ensei-ji & Konpira-sha


Enseiji Temple, located down a small side street in Hagi is an example of something that was once the norm but is now unusual, it is both a temple and a shrine on the same site.


It is home to the biggest stone lantern in the prefecture as well as a huge Tengu mask. It is famous for being the temple where Ito Hirobumi, Japans first Prime Minister, studied as a child. I did hear that his uncle was a priest here.


The reason given why the shrine and temple were not forced to seperate is that they were holding writings of an imperial princess from several centuries earlier. As stated it doesnt make sense, but they were not forced to separate.


The shrine is a Konpira, a branch of the famous one on Shikoku known for protection for sea journeys. The temple part is Shingon and the honzon is a Jizo. The temple was founded in the 13th Century, a long time before the castle town was built.