Monday, March 5, 2012



The first few miles of the pilgrimage path, from temple 1 to temple 3, are along asphalt, but not long after temple 3 the way follows a small footpath that snakes across ride paddies and then through some bamboo groves before arriving at the small temple of Aizen-in.


Both the main gate and the entrance to the main building are flanked by huge straw sandals, and inside the main building are thousands and thousands of regular-sized sandals in piles.


In a corner is a pile of crutches and leg braces which people have left here after having had lower-body ailments healed. The temple was supposedly founded by Kukai who also carved the statues of the main deity, Fudo Myo-o.


Aizen-in is the Okuin of temple 3, Konsenji. Okuin means "inner hall" and is the building of a temple that is furthest from the entrance gate. This one is about 3k from the main temple.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vacation 2011 Day 12 into the Draa Valley


The seventh day of our trek across the Jebel Sahro in southern Morocco began with a crystal clear sky.


We were coming down into the Draa Valley that separates the highlands known as Jebel sahro from the might Atlas Mountains visible, snow-capped, in the distance.


It was a fairly uneventful day and we made camp in the early afternoon in the middle of an undulating sea of rock. Some may call it barren, but for me it is naked mother earth. I have long since given up trying to figure out why it is that I feel most home, safe, and comfortable in an environment of rock and sky.


Off in the distance a little weather began to form.


The land was not completely without vegetation :)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ushioni the Cow Demon


Ushioni, demons with the head of a cow, appear in legends and stories all over western Japan.


Probably the most well-known nowadays are the ushioni of Uwajima in Ehime on Shikoku.


In the third week of July the Ushioni Matsuri takes place involving a parade of 5-8 meter long figures with these heads atop tall poles.


In Uwajima they function as protection in a similar way to Shishi.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steel Hut


The Steel Hut, along with the Silver Hut, make up the Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture.


Unsurprisingly it was designed by architect Toyo Ito.


It is located near the small fishing village of Munakata on Omishima in the Seto Inland Sea between Hiroshima and Shikoku.


On the website for the museum you can download the plan of its design and construct one yourself out of paper........ here


The building consists of four different polyhedrons and is constructed in steel.


Construction finished and the museum opened in 2011.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The tallest stone torii in japan


This is the biggest (tallest) torii made of stone in Japan. It is located in front of Warei Shrine in Uwajima, Ehime, on Shikoku. It is 12.5 meters tall. Many sources claim the stone torii at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto as the tallest, but it is a mere 9.5 meters tall.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 7 Jurakuji


Only one kilometer from temple 6, Jurakuji is the eighth temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The name means "temple of ten Joys" and refers to the 10 joys awaiting believers after death.


There were many Mizuko Jizo in the grounds, the small Jizo statues erected for the souls of aborted children.


This wonderful statue is of Aizen Myo-o, one of the wrathful, fierce-looking deities originally Hindu but now seen as emanations of the 5 Wisdom Kings. Aizen, known as the King of Sexual Passion,  converts lust into spiritual awakening and saves people from the sufferings associated with love.


Jurakuji was, according to legend, founded by Kukai who also carved the statue of the main deity Amida Nyorai.


The temple complex used to be much larger but was burned down in the late 17th Century and rebuilt later, though the current main hall only dates from the Meiji era.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A day in tunnels


It is impossible to walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage without walking through a variety of tunnels.


I haven't sat down and calculated how many kilometers of tunnel you walk through, but it must be at least 20k and more probably double that, and in walking that is more than a day of distance.


It is possible to avoid some tunnels by taking a path up and over the mountain, but if you are carrying 20 kilos and/or the weather is bad then the tunnels makes sense....


Some of the tunnels are new, well lit, and with a decent sidewalk.


Some are old, dark, and narrow with just a painbted line separating you from the roaring traffic.


There are also quite a few traffic-free tunnels for pedestrians and cyclists.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kanzui Matsuri 6


So, it's about one-thirty in the morning and the sixth dance of the matsuri begins, Daikoku and Ebisu.

There is not really a story, rather the two characters, both members of the 7 Lucky Gods of Japan, engage in pantomime.

Daikoku was originally a Hindu warrior deity, but in Japan by the 15th century he had become the jolly, pudgy character associated with wealth and good fortune. Hitting the people on the head with his magic mallet will bring them good fortune.

When Ebisu dances he often goes through the comedic routine of catching a Sea Bream.

Daikoku and Ebisu are often seen as a father-son pair through the association with Okuninushi (written with the same kanji as daikoku) and Kotoshironushi, seen as Ebisu.

What the kids in the audience have been waiting for is for the lucky candy that Ebisu throws out.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jinpukaku Tottori

Jinpukaku is a European-style mansion originally planned as a villa for the Ikeda family, the former Lords of Tottori. It was built in the first decade of the twentieth Century.

There is a nice Japanese-style garden to the rear. The mansion is located at the base of the ruins of Tottori Castle.

It was the first building in Tottori to get electric lights.

Crown Prince Yoshihito, later to become the Taisho Emperor, stayed here on his tour of the San-in region in 1907

The house has a small collection of items relating to the Ikeda Clan, and the rooms are elegantly furnished, but the main attraction is the spiral staircase.

There seems to be a much more continental feel to this building than with many other "Western" buildings built in te late 18th and early 20th centuries, like the Mansion for Foreign Engineers in Kagoshima.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kijo. Demon Woman Mask


There are several kagura dances that have women who become demons, and the Kijo mask is one used in the transformation.


Momijigari (shown above), Kifune, and Kurozuka, are three such dances that feature variations on the mask.


There should be a few more weeks of wintery weather so I should be able to get soem more masks finished :)