Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ikkyu Shrine, Onomichi


The Onomichi Temple Walk also passes by some shrines as well as temples, and the first shrine just after Hodou-ji is Ikkyu Shrine.


Enshrined here is Kibitsuhiko, the major kami of the Kibi region in southern Okayama. According to legend he was an imperial prince sent from Yamato to defeat a demon troubling the people of Kibi. The story of Momotaro is believed to be based on this legend.


When I first visited the shrine it was in late October and the place was a hive of activity with parishioners preparing for the Betcha Matsuri held on November 3rd. as well as the usual mikoshi procession, the Betcha matsuri includes a tengu and 2 demons who beat children and infants with sticks to ensure their good health.



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Noshiro Shrine


After leaving Oda the route of the Iwami 33 Kannon Pilgrimage heads along the Sanbe River towards Mount Sanbe. Just below Sanbe Dam is the small settlement of Noshiro with a small shrine.

I know these posts on obscure local shrines are not particularly popular, but a large part of the reason why I started this blog was to document the thousands of shrines I've visited, so..... As of this writing I have only managed to document 124, an index of which can be found here.


Noshiro has an interesting trio of kami enshrined, the main one being Izanagi, the male half of the pair that created the Japanese islands and its kami. Mythologically speaking Izanagi and Izanami are the most important of the kami, but in the seventh Century, and again in the twentieth Century, the government of Japan elevated the Imperial ancestor Amaterasu to the highest position.


The other 2 kami enshrined here are related to Izanagi, Hayatamano and Kotosakano, 2 kami that appear in the myth of Izanagis visit to see his dead wife Izanami in Yomi. At least that is the Izumo version, and as the myth of Yomi is set in Izumo I would tend towards that version rather than the "national" version that has Hayatamano as another name for Izanami. Part of my interest in visiting small local shrines is for the light they shed on the diversity that existed in Japan before the modern, homogenous, centrally imposed, "national" culture was created.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Delightful Floral Manholes of Beppu


Some places really make an effort with their manhole designs. Yuda Onsen in Yamaguchi with more than 30 different designs being an obvious choice (click here for some examples). Another place I recently discovered is Beppu, the famous hot-spring resort in Oita.
The first one features Cosmos (kosumosu) and Rose Mallow (Fuyou)


Crape Myrtle (sarusuberi) and Sunflower (himawari)


Plum (ume) and Daffodil (suisen)


Wintersweet (loubai) and Pot Marigold (kinsenka)


Bush Clover (hagi) and Canna Lily (kanna)


Peach (momo) and Pansy (panji)


Hydrangea (ajisai) and Daisy (maagaretto)

Another post later as this is not all the ones I found in Beppu.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mysterious Creatures

Sand Museum9528

I have been unable to find out exactly whet these creatures are. They can be found scuttling about around harbors and the like and seem to live in the intertidal zone.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Ikui Shrine


Ikui Shrine is a small shrine in Katsuura Town between temples 19 and 20 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.


Ikui is another way of reading Ebisu, and this is the kami enshrined here, rather Kotoshironushi, the official identity of Ebisu since the Meiji Period.


The shrine is listed in the Engi Shiki, a court document from the early tenth Century that, among other things, lists 2,861 shrines across Japan that received annual offerings from the Imperial Court.

This website has details of all the shrines in the Engi Shiki, unfortunately only in Japanese.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Star Sand Beach


There are two Hoshizuna (star sand) beaches in the Yaeyama Islands, one on Taketomi, and this one on the north coast of Iriomote.


No crowds, no deckchairs, no ice creams.....


Warm water..... in midwinter the water temperature drops to 20 degrees celsius...


The star sand is actually the skeleton, about 1mm across, of an organism...


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The View from Mount Nosoko


At 282 meters Mount Nosoko is not the highest mountain on Ishigaki Island, but its distinctive shape offers 360 degree views from its summit.


To the north the Hirakubo Peninsula.


Down below, coral reefs and turquoise seas...


Locally the mountain is known as Nosoko Mape after a young woman named mape who climbed to the top so she could see the island where her lover lived but was so despondent that another higher mountain blocked her view that she turned to stone...


To the south the east coast of Ishigaki...


After coming down we went to Nosoko Beach..... a woman was digging for some kind of small clam/shellfish, and after she left we had the whole beach to ourselves....

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Japanese Umbrellas


On vacation down in Okinawa right now but its grey and cloudy and rainy so instead of white sand and turquoise water you get umbrellas.....

These were at Nachi Taisha down in Kumano, Wakayama.


This one was used to protect the taiko during the mikoshi procession at a shrine matsuri in Nakatsu.


Of course regular "western" type umbrellas are more common....


The classic red..... in Tomonoura...


Western style, but used by priests at Hongu Taisha....

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kushida Shrine


Kushida Shrine is the most important shrine in Hakata. Founded in 757 when Hakata was the main port for official international travel and commerce. Being an urban shrine it is quite compact but there is a lot to see.


On display is a "float" from the hakata Gion Yamakasi Matsuri, one of the great festivals of Japan. 10 meters high these floats are no longer used because of overhead power lines, but during the first 2 weeks of July ten of them are put on display around Hakata.


Inside the main hall are half a dozen or so big tengu masks with particularly long noses. there are also soem nice carvings in the building itself.


The main kami is Ohatanushi, I believe the ancestral kami of one of the priestly lineages from Ise. Amataerasu and Susano are also enshrined.


There are dozens of smaller shrines in the grounds, among them Inari, Matsuo, Suwa, Konpira, Awashima, Tenmagu, and Ebisu.


There is a huge Camphor tree, said to be 1,000 years old, and 2 stone anchors which is claimed came from the invading Mongol fleet but which are in fact from Chinese merchant ships.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013



Time for the obligatory cherry blossom pictures......

I don't have to go far for Ohanami..... after we moved into our house we planted a cherry sapling in front of our front door and its now a decent size....


Actually I much prefer the Yamazakura, the wild cherry trees that grow on the mountainsides..... as I understand it these were the trees that historically were viewed.....


The species that now dominates the cities are a fairly modern hybrid and have been planted since the Meiji period. It has pure white blossoms and only blooms for a much shorter period. This species was also aggresively planted in the countries colonized by Japan and adopted as a symbol for the cannon fodder who were supposed to sacrifice their short lives for the glory of Japan and the Emperor.

 I much prefer the other species that have some color in them