Showing posts with label turtle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turtle. Show all posts

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Nishinomiya Ebisu Shrine


Nishinomiya Ebisu Shrine is certainly the most popular and well-known shrine in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo.

Nishinomiya means "West Shrine" and the shrine the city is named after is actually Hirota Shrine.

To the north of Nishinomiya Ebisu, Hirota Shrine was in ancient times a very important shrine, and it is believed that the Ebisu Shrine was sometimes referred to as "Southern Shrine" indicating its branch relationship to Hirota.

There are three hondens behind the main shrine. One enshrines Ebisu, one enshrines Amaterasu and Okuninushi, and the third enshrines Susano.

The enshrinement of Amaterasu and Okuninushi occurred in the early years of Meiji when the shrine officially separated from Hirota. Not sure when the Susano enshrinement happened.

There seems to have been some dispute over the Okuninushi Shrine. It seems at one point the whole shrine was renamed Okuninushi Shrine but then later separated from the Ebisu Shrine. After 1945 the Okuninushi became a sub-shrine of the Ebisu.

The main hall is a post-war reconstruction of the 17th century building. I also believe it underwent further reairs following the Hanshin Earthquake.

There are numerous secondary shrines within the large grounds, including the aforementioned Okuninushi Nishi Shrine which also enshrines Sukunahiko, and a Kojin Shrine (photo 4 )

There is also an Atago Shrine, and an Okiebisu shrine, enshrining the "wild/turbulent" aspect of Ebisu relocated to within the grounds  in early Meiji. (second to last photo)

There is a Benzaiten Shrine and a Rokkosan Shrine, an Inari Shrine, but also an Ugatama Shrine from before Meiji when Inari became equated with Ugatama. There are two shrines connected to sake brewing, a Matsuo Shrine, and an Umemiya Shrine.

The most interesting subsidiary shrine for me was the Hyakudayu Shrine which enshrines a kami connected to puppeteering. It is said that one of the reasons for the widespread adoption of Ebisu nationwide was due to Ebisu stories told in puppet plays.

Nishinomiys Ebisu is considered by some to be the head shrine of all Ebisu shrines nationwide, and the version of Ebisu here is the one based on Hiruko, sometimes called "Leech Child" born of Izanagi and Izanami who failed to follow the correct protocol and so their first child was born without limbs or skeleton. It was placed in a basket and set adrift.

One version of the story has the basket sailing to Hokkaido where the child is raised by Ainu. Another version of Ebisu is equated with Kotoshirunushi, a son of Okuninushi, and so some consider his main shrine of Miho Shrine in Shimane to be the head Ebisu shrine.

Certainly the pairing of Ebisu and Daikoku, another variation of  Okuninushi, as two of the Seven Lucky Gods, explains Ebisu's popularity among businesses and commerce, whereas Ebisu as the patron deity of fishermen suggests a different heritage perhaps.

The Toka Ebisu Festival takes place on January 10th and includes the Lucky Man Race wherein thousands of hopefuls race from the main gate to the main shrine building.

I was here very early on June 10th and preparations were underway for a ceremony at the Okiebisu Shrine.....

This was my first stop on day 3 of my walk along the Kinki Fudo Myo pilgrimage. The previous post was on my last stop of day 2, the Kifune Shrine in Amagasaki.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Fukusaiji Temple


Shaped like a turtle with a great aluminum head protruding out and topped with a giant statue of Kannon, Fukusaiji Temple in Nagasaki is sure to be the strangest-looking zen temple you will ever see.

In its current form, it was built in 1979, however, it was originally founded as the second of the Chinese temples in 1628, just 5 years after Kofukuji.

The modern, Chinese-style gate is topped with a curious geometric sculpture that hints at what can be found within, a Foucault Pendulum, a scientific device used to show the rotation of the earth, the second biggest in the world when it was built.

Fukusaiji grew to become the biggest of the four Chinese temples and in 1910 the main hall was registered as a National Treasure.

Fukusaiji was completely destroyed in the atomic bombing.

The temple bell rings at 11.02am every day, the time of the bomb exploding.

As well as being a mausoleum, the basement also has displays of surviving remnants and photos from the original temple as well as uniforms and stuff from WWII Japanese soldiers.

Not too far from Nagasaki Station, Fukusaiji certainly has enough unusual sights to be worth a detour.

The circle in the ceiling and the metal fence around the circle in the floor are part of a Foucault Pendulum that starts inside the top of the 18-meter Kannon statue and ends in a metal sphere swinging over the remains of more than 16,000 Japanese war dead in the mausoleum in the temple basement.

The previous post was on the nearby  Shofukuji Temple, another of the Chinese Zen temples of Nagasaki, but which survived the war intact.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Osaka Tenmangu

Osaka Tenmangu

Osaka Tenmangu.

Osaka Tenmangu is a large, quiet, shrine in the middle of downtown Osaka that is the origin of Osak's biggest matsuri, the Tenjin matsuri.


There are countless thousands of wooden ema strung up around the main buildings, the vast majority containing prayers for success in exams, as this is a Tenmangu shrine, enshrining Sugawara Michizane, considered to be the patron of scholarship.

Osaka Tenmangu.

The origin of the shrine comes from when Sugawara Michizane stopped at Daishogunsha Shrine on his journey to "exile" in Dazaifu. That shrine now exists as a sub-shrine in the grounds today.


A small pond in the grounds is home to some Japanese pond  turtles,.... something I think is more common at shrines than at temples....


The shrine buildings have been destroyed many times by fire, but surprisingly the main hall anf gate survived the destruction of WWII and date back to the mid 19th century.


There are a lot of secondary shrines within the large grounds, including the obligatory Inari Shrine.

Osaka Tenmangu.

This was my second day walking the Kinki Fudo Myo pilgrimage and was heading to the next temple after having visited  Houoninji.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Gesshoji Temple Matsudaira Tombs

Gesshoji Temple Matsudaira Tombs

Gesshoji Temple lies to the west of Matsue Castle and was used by the ruling Matsudaira clan as their funerary temple where tombs of succeeding daimyo were built

Consequently, the grounds are rather spacious, and not that well visited. 

The tomb of each daimyo has its own gate and there are plenty of stone lanterns given by vassals.

The gardens have a lot of hydrangeas, so in June and July it sees more visitors.

There are also Irises, cherry blossoms, and of course autumn foliage. There is a treasure hall with tea utensils and other artifacts from the clan, and a fine garden which I will cover in a later post.

Some of the gates to the tombs have some nice carvings, one in particular, the tomb of the 6th lord,  has a fine pair of carvings.

Thanks to Lafcadio Hearn, who lived nearby for less than a year, the most famous thing in the grounds is the giant stone turtle. He told how the turtle would wander around the area at night so the local residents placed the huge slab of stone on its back to prevent it....

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Palace of the Dragon King

Nochigashima is a tiny, rocky islet just off the Hiyoriyama Coast in northern Hyogo. It is home to a collection of structures with a distinct Chinese style. They were built in the 1950's to memorialize an ancient local fairy tale/legend.

The story dates back to the earliest writings in Japan, the Manyoshu, Nihon Shoki, and the Fudoki. Like all such stories it exists in many forms and has been embellished over the centuries but its basic story contains elements familiar to many similar stories around the world.

Urashima Taro was a local fisherman who saved a turtle. He was rewarded by being taken down under the sea to the palace of the Dragon King and was entertained by one of his daughters, a beautiful princess. After a few days he decided to return home. Before keaving the princess gave hima jewelled box but told him never to open it.

Whenhe returned to the surface he discovered that in the few days he had spent in the undersea world  a hundred years had passed up on the surface. He opened the box and suddenly transformed into a very old man. Another version has him transforming into a crane. Both the turtle and crane are Daoist symbols of longevity very prevalent in Japanese culture and art.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fukusai-ji Kannon


Built originally in 1628, Fukusai-Ji was the second of the temples built by Chinese in Nagasaki. After the founding of the Obaku Zen sect it became an Obaku Temple. It burned down in the fires that followed the atomic bombing of the city in 1945.


The current structure, shaped like a giant turtle, was constructed in 1976 and as well as being a zen temple is also a mausoleum to 16,000 war dead. It is popularly known as Nagasaki Kannon Universal temple. The temple bell rings at 11.02 am, the time of the atomic blast.


Standing atop the turtle is an 18 meter tall statue of Kannon, like the giant turtle head protruding from the building it is made out of aluminum alloy.


The main hall is home to possibly the second largest Foucault Pendulum in the world. Used to show the rotation of the earth, a 25 meter long cable begins in the head of Kannon and  passes through the main hall down into the basement where a weighted sphere swings over the remains of the war dead.


In the above photo you can see the cable coming down through the opening in the ceiling before descending into the opening in the floor surrounded by guardrails.