Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More ceremonies at Shunki Taisai


As well as the main ceremony at the Shunki Taisai there were several other ceremonies going on during the day. In one of the secondary shrines Miko Mai was performed several times during the day.


Three priests also took part in the ritual and no-one else was within the shrine.


As is obvious to anyone reading this blog, I am quite fascinated by Miko and their costumes. Lots of previous posts can be found here.


In the main hall of the shrine there was a continuous set of purification ceremonies going on all day for those wishing to pay for the service.


Down below the main shrine was a special shrine just for cars. Most areas will have a shrine or temple that specializes in rituals for car blessing and driving safety, but this was the first time I had seen an area specifically set up for it.


The number of ceremonies and services offered by shrines has increased in the post-war years as shrines do not have access to the lucrative funeral business that funds Buddhism.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shunki Taisai


Yesterday was the Grand Spring Festival down in Tsuwano at the Taikodani Inari Shrine. Before the main ceremony could begin the miko assisted the participants with water purification, starting with themselves.


As well as the 4 miko there were 8 priests (or 6 priests and 2 trainee priests) and 4 representatives from the town taking part.


After everyone was ready the Guji (head priest) came out and then lead the procession to the ceremonial area.


The ceremony took place in a Himorogi, a sacred enclosure which probably is the form earliest shrines took before buildings were introduced after the introduction of Buddhism. The big umbrella is for the head priest.


The ceremony was short, and as far as I could tell there were no norito (prayers)


The Miko were holding sprigs of cherry blossoms, though as the cherry blossoms had passed 3 or 4 weeks ago these were plastic, fitting perhaps as most of the shrine is concrete.


Then everyone headed inside the main building which was full of paying customers who had paid handsomely for the privilege of a purification ceremony.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mefu Shrine


Mefu Shrine is yet another shrine in Matsue that is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki which means it was in existence for about 1,000 years before Matsue was built.


It is located not far from the station, on the south bank of the waterway that connects Lake Shinji with Nakaumi and the sea, so its not surprising that the main kami is Haya Akitsuhi the kami of inlets and straits,created by Izanagi and Izanami.


A secondary group of kami are Isotake and his 2 sisters Oyatsuhime and Tsumatsuhime, the three children of Susano that came to Japan with him from Korea.


Behind the main honden are a couple of shrines to Funadama, the kami of boats, and Konpira the kami of safe journeys


Other smaller shrines include Ebisu, Wadatsumi, the dragon kami of the sea, and an Aragami. The shrine is noted for a fine pair of komainu.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inside ACROS


Going in through the front entrance of ACROS, one enters a huge atrium lit by by the semi-circular skylight that protrudes through the roof.


ACROS houses a convention center, a symphony Hall, tourist information office, gallery of traditional local arts and crafts, and numerous offices.


The building opened in 1994 and was designed by Emilio Ambasz.


A previous post with shots of the unusual exterior can be found here.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vacation 2011 Day 1: Kokura


After exploring Yahata it was time to head to Fukuoka, but first I spent a quick hour revisiting Kokura. Around the castle moat the cherry blossoms were out so I was able to have a little ohanami before leaving the country.


Below the castle is a branch of Yasaka shrine, and as I have a keen interest in komainu I couldnt resist taking some snaps.


In front of the castle was a small Inari shrine and several buddhist statues clad in gaily colored bibs with offerings of fresh flowers.... the late afternoon sun and shadows made for good pictures.


The main reason to revisit Kokura was to check out Riverwalk, the complex designed by Jerde. Ive posted about it before, but at a different time of the year and a different time of the day, and a new lens, it was possible to take some new shots.


And finally, walking across the river back towards the station the pleasure boats lined up to have their picture taken....


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mundane Manhole Mandalas

Usually for my ongoing series on Japanese manhole covers I post a design and then show photos of the subject, but sometimes the designs are not particularly interesting, so today just a collection of less than inspiring designs.


Misumi Town, Shimane.


Yasugi. Shimane.


Iwami Town, Shimane.


Hamada City, Shimane


Kamo Town, Shimane,

To see more interesting designs click here

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peony Porn


I am not usually a huge fan of photos of the sexual organs of flowers, but today I make an exception.


Yesterday we visited Daikon Island in the Nakaumi, the lagoon that straddles the border of Shimane and Tottori, to see the peonies in bloom.


They have been cultivated on the island since the Edo Period, and Daikon Island is now the largest producer of them in Japan.


Called Botan in Japanese, they were introduced into Japan from China as a medicinal plant in the eighth century. During the buddhist proscription against eating meat "botan" was a euphemism for wild boar meat.


Apparently they bloom all year round but the peak is around now.


A strange woman followed me around the garden so I asked her to pose next to a bloom to give an idea of the scale.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kawado Suijin Matsuri


Not only was Thursday Childrens Day and the Kawado Childrens Matsuri, but also the annual Kawado Suijin Matsuri. Following the ceremony in the shrine the mikoshi procession heads down to the river. The men on the right are carrying a huge length of giant bamboo which has an Onusa (purification wand) attached to it. It will replace the previous years one and will project out over the river to purify the area Suijin is believed to like to spend time.


To the accompaniment of drum and flute the procession heads along the riverbank to the two traditional wooden river boats waiting to take them upstream.


The smaller boat will carry the young men and a bunch of bamboos with banners attached. Each banner has been offered by a household that has a new child or grandchild born since last years matsuri.


The main boat carries the heavy mikoshi, 2 musicians, 3 priests, a village representative, a local TV cameraman, and 2 boatmen.


Both boats head upstream a few hundred meters to where further ceremonies will be held.

More details and photos can be had in earlier posts by clicking on the suijin tag below.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Kawado Childrens Matsuri


Thursday was the annual Childrens Matsuri acroos the river in Kawado. As well as a small mikoshi, the kids pull a small float of a family of Enko, the local name for Kappa.


The matsuri begins, as all matsuris should, with a ceremony in the local shrine. This year it seemed to be better attended than last.


And then they are off, parading the mikoshi and float around the village to the accompaniement of drum and flute.


I dont have the stats to hand right now, but the birth-rate here in the countryside is just about sustainable. Its in the cities, Tokyo especially, that the birth rate is way below the level needed to sustain the population.


Anyway, the kids had a great time, and if they didnt then their parents did