Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gosho Shrine


Gosho Shrine is located on a hillside not far from Kumadaniji in Awa City, Tokushima. It was originally located closer to the Yoshino River but a flood in 1699 caused it to be moved. Gosho means imperial palace and is named after a palace built in the area by ex-Emperor Tsuchimikado who is one of the two main kami enshrined here. the other is Susano. A strange combination.


Tsuchimikado was born in 1196, the first son of Emperor Gotoba. He ascended the throne in 1198 at the age of 3 (4 by the Japanese way of counting age) after his father abdicated. At the ripe old age of 16 Tsuchimikado abdicated in favor of his younger brother. The real power behind the throne was the retired Gotoba, but this was the time of the rise of the Kamakura Shogunate and in the Jokyu war of 1221 fought between Gotoba and the Hojo, regents of the shogunate, Gotoba was defeated and sent into exile on the Oki islands. Tsuchimikado was exiled to Shikoku, first in what is now Kochi, and then later here to Awa.


In 1227 Tsuchimikado built a palace somewhere near here and in 1231 he died at the age of 37. I have been unable to find out how he died, but I would guess that he was assassinated as it was not usual for emperors or ex-emperors to be enshrined unless they had died of political violence. Death under such circumstances would result in an "angry ghost" that would need placating. It was not until the modern period that most of the emperors who are now enshrined as kami became enshrined.


Ther were quite a few old paintings in the main hall of the shrine, and I love the way that the pigments have faded and allow the woodgrain to come to the fore........


Friday, April 20, 2012

Yet More Round Windows


My previous posts of circular windows in Japan seem toi have been quite popular, so here are some more. This first one is in a garden fence at Garyu Villa in Ozu, Ehime.


This one is at the small local history museum on the island of Okunoshima in Hiroshima Prefecture.


Encho-en, a huge Chinese garden up in Tottori has many round windows....


This one is from a park shelter in Sakaiminato, also in Tottori.


This one is in Taishaku Gorge in Hiroshima...


An office building in Matsuyama, Ehime.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vacation 2011 Day 14 In the Valley of the Roses


After leaving the gite we wandered through the alleys of the village before emerging on the banks of the river in the Valley of the Roses.


We followed the river upstream all day, sometimes needing to ford it. The water was cold and fast, being melted snow coming down from the Atlas Mountains.


Unfortunately we were too early to find any roses, however poppies were very much in abundance in the gardens of the villages we passed through.


One house had an unusual ornament on the roof......


Further up the valley the geology changed and we could have easily been in Arizona....


Camp was on the riverbank where the mules had plenty to drink and the chorus of frogs kept up all night....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fukuyama Roses


Fukuyama is the second largest city in Hiroshima Prefecture and is known as the Rose City, so its not surprising that images of roses are everywhere. The bus I took to get there from Hiroshima City was called the Rose Liner.


Obviously designs of roses adorn the local manholes and draincovers.


I visited in March and could find no actual roses, though in May they hold the annual Rose Festival with more than half a million roses on display.Tthere were plenty of rose-related products for sale though.


The rose was chosen as the symbol of the city in the early 1950's to give hope to the inhabitants whose city was 80% destroyed by allied bombing at the end of the war.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Inside the Tokoro Museum


This is a follow on post from this earlier one. The most striking thing about the inside of the gallery is the wooden lattice roof that runs the length of the building and suffuses the interior with light.


The long, narrow interior has the space divided into descending levels that go down the hillside. Some of the interior space is divided by curved partitions.


The gallery/museum is located on the island of Omishima between Hiroshima and Ehime and is now part of the Shimanami Kaido which connects Shikoku to Honshu via a series of bridges and islands.


At the lower end of the gallery is a small cafe and patio with fantastic views across the Inland Sea. The end of the building is completely open, allowing the wind and weather in and giving the feeling that the museum is outside.


On display are contemporary scuptures belonging to the collection of wealthy art-collector Atsuo Tokoro, including artworks by Noe Katz, Marisol, Norichika Hayashi, and Takashi Fukai, none of whom I have heard of before as I no longer follow any kind of art scene.

Also on the small island are the nearby Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, the Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum, a big museum on the calligraphy of Murakami Santo, the Omishima Museum of Art, and several museums at Oyamazumi Shrine displaying samurai armour and weaponry, so worth spending a day there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 9 Horinji


Temple number 9 of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage is named Horinji and is located in Awa City. The name means Dharma Wheel Temple though it is sometimes known as Hakudasan, White Snake Mountain, after the story that Kukai heard about a white snake that lived nearby and protected buddhists.


The temple was located further up in the valley but was burnt down by Chosakabe in the 16th Century and rebuilt in its current location.


The main deity is Shaka Nyorai, the historical Buddha, and the carving, attributed to Kukai, is unusual in that it is a reclining Buddha, uncommon in Japan, and the only one in the 88 temples.


It is a Shingon temple and locally renowned for healing problems with feet and the waist.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Izumo Yayoinomori Museum

Stumbled upon a brand new museum up in Izumo a few days ago. The Izumo Yayoinomori Museum is just across the road from the Nishitani Tumuli Park, a cluster of Yayoi Period tombs on the hill a little southeast of Izumo Station.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was entrance free to the main exhibition areas, but also that photography was allowed. There is nothing worse, to my mind, than paying an exorbitant entrance fee and then not being allowed to take photos.

The focus of the displays are on the adjacent tombs, with examples of the grave goods excavated from them as well as diaramas showing how they believe the tombs were constructed, and the internal structure. Overall I was quite impressed by the displays and found them most educational, though there is little explanation in English.

The adjacent tombs, 5 in all, were constructed in the early 3rd Century and are in the distinctive design uinique to this part of Japan, being square with 4 protruberences extending out from each corner. On of the tombs can be entered.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Encountered on the trail

Came across this skeleton of a young buck Sika Deer yesterday as I was hiking across the Kitayama Mountains at the western end of the Shimane peninsular. Every time Ive hiked here I have seen deer, and one time when I slept out there I had them running by me all night as I slept on a small piece of open ground..

It may have died a natural death, or it may have been fatally injured in a territorial dispute with another buck. They no longer have any natural predators.

The name Sika Deer comes from the japanese word for deer, shika. There are not many in the mountains of shimane, but this little range of mountains is like an island and it is well populated with them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Walk from Honshu to Shikoku Day1


There was a spell of fine weather last week so I took the opportunity to go for a walk. My route was along the Shimanami kaido, a new 70k road that connects Onomichi in Hiroshima on Honshu with Imabari in Ehime on Shikoku. The road passes through 6 islands via 7 bridges. I spent the morning on the Temple walk in Onomichi, a route that zig-zags up and down the hillside visiting 25 temples and several shrines. From the top of Senkojisan there are fine views down on the town and across the channel to the first of the islands Mukaijima.


The bridge across to Mukaijima doesnt have any sidewalks, so its recommended for cyclists and pedestrians to cross over on one of the frequent ferries. there isnt a lot to see on Mukaijima, and the first part of the route, well marked with blue lines along the road, passes through the built up area but then heads south down the west coast where the views become nicer.


The Innoshima Ohashi is the suspension bridge that connects Mukaijima to Innoshima. It was built in 1983 and is 1.4 kilometers long and  has a main span of 770 meters.


Pedestrians, cyclists, and mopeds travel under the bridge. My plan had been to head up to the top of Mt Shirataki , the highest point on the island, to spend the night and enjoy the views over the Inland Sea at sunset and sunrise, but it was only 3pm so I decided to push on across the middle of the island.


Roughly in the middle of the island is what is the main tourist attraction of the island, the Murakami Suigun Castle. Sometimes called a navy, sometimes pirates, they are best described as privateers who controlled the waterways of the Inland Sea for much of the medieval period. The reconstructed castle houses a museum. Woirth a visit if you are passing by but not worth a special trip unless you are into that kind of thing.


the sun was getting low when I reached the other side of the island and the Ikuchi Bridge that connects Innoshima with Ikuchijima. With a span of 790 meters, this was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world when it opened in 1991.


I went a few more k once I got to Ikuchijima before I made camp on the sea wall on some waste ground between two small shipbuilding yards.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ochidani Shrine


Ochidani Shrine is at the far end of Ochidani Park a little to the south of Tottori castle ruins in Tottori City. There is a long approach and obviously it was a grand shrine in formner times. before Meiji it was named Inaba Toshogu.


The Nio that once inhabited the gate would have been removed after shinbutsu bunri , the separation of the buddhas and kami, which is also when the name was changed. Toshogu shrines enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu as  Toshu Daigongen, and the most famous Toshogu is the original one at Nikko.


There were once 500 Toshogu throughout the country but now only 130 remain.


This one in Tottori was built in 1650 by the local Daimyo, Ikeda Mitsunaka, who was a great grandson of Ieyasu.


The gate, haiden, and heiden, are registered as Important Cultural properties.