Sunday, November 17, 2013

Two Tanuki


For a couple of months I have been enjoying the daily visit to my backyard by the local badger.

A couple of weeks ago there was an enormous fight right outside my window. It was dark and the weeds were high so I was unable to see what was fighting.


Since then the badger has not been seen, but each afternoon or early evening we get a visit from a pair of tanuki. I'm guessing it was they who fought the badger and won, though I am surprised. I would have thought the badger was stronger, but the tanuki are faster and there are two of them....


I'm guessing they are a mating pair as fall is the mating season. In English they are called racoon dogs. They look a little like racoons but are unrelated. They are related to dogs and foxes.


They are common to see, though its unusual to get to see them so close. They are the most common form of roadkill.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Iha Shrine

Walking out of the village of Naoe towards the train station there is yet another shrine. Iha Shrine is recorded in the Izumo Fudoki so is therefore at least 1300 years old. It was until 1750 on top of Mount Iwano but then relocated down to its present location.

The map shows it as Iha Shrine, as does the signboard, but the new stone marker in front says KamiNaoe Hachimagu. I can find no explanation.

At some point in the not too distant past the whole shrine has been reconstructed. The main kami of the shrine is Okuninushi.

There are several smaller shrines collected together in the grounds but they are listed as unknown kami.

There is also the almost obligatory Inari shrine....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ebisu Shrine, Naka, Tokushima


After coming down from Tairyuji I stopped in at the local Ebisu Shrine. The villagers were cleaning up after the flood caused by the typhoon the day before, hence the pile of rice.


There were some enormous Giant Cedars lining the path into the shrine and a statue of Chosokabe the warlord who ruled over all of Shikoku for a while before Hideyoshi sent his armies in.


There was no signboard so I could not find out anything about what secondary shrines and kami there were, other than the obvious main kami Ebisu, no equated with Kotoshironushi. There was a zuijinmon with a fine pair of zuijin.


The shrine was built on the site of the former Niu castle, though I guess it must have been quite a small and unimportant castle.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church Kagoshima


The St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church is the cathedral of Kagoshima and is located in downtown Kagoshima. It was opened in 1999 to mark the 450th anniversary of his arrival in Japan. It replaced an earlier church built to mark the 400th anniversary.


Just across the street is a memorial buiot using stones from an earlier church.


Unusual for japan it has a nice big pipe organ.

My hotel was only 2 minutes away so I was able to revisit late on a sunny afternoon to take advantage of the light streaming in through the stained glass.


I quite enjoy visiting churches in Japan because they are not all that common.

I think this one is my favorite in terms of the interior.


My favorite church exterior would have to be the Xavier Memorial Church in Yamaguchi.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Kotohira-gu, Izumo bunsha

After visiting Rendaiji, the sixth temple on the Izumo 33 Kannon pilgrimage I headed to the nearest train station in Naoe to head home, stopping in at the Konpira Shrine in the middle of the village.

Its now called a Kotohira-gu, which was the new name given to the kami Konpira in the Meiji era to disassociate it from its Buddhist identity. The main Konpira Shrine on Shikoku was one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations of the Edo period with millions of pilgrims travelling to Shikoku and often bringing back the "spirit" of the kami to enshrine in their local villages. This one in Naoe however was not established until 1880.

At the same time as renaming the kami it was given new identities more suitable for the national shinto that was in the process of being created. Hirata Atsutane had a hand in establishing the "true" identity of Kotohira as a manifestation of Okuninushi (Omononushi) and also the 12th Century Emperor Sutoku.

There are several smaller shrines in the grounds including a Harae-do, a Manasa shrine, a Hachiman shrine and this Inari Shrine.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Noma Hachimangu

Coming down the hill after visiting Hanya-in, the second temple on the Kyushu 108 temple pilgrimage, I took shelter from the drizzle in a small, local Hachiman shrine.

There was no signboard so I could find out little of its history, except that it is a branch of the Usa Hachimangu. two thirds of all the Hachiman shrines in Japan are branches of Iwashimizu Hachimangu near Kyoto, itself a branch of Usa Hachimangu. As such it enshrines Ojin, his mother, Jingu, and his wife Tamayorihime.

There was a secondary shrine to Tenjin in the grounds, and lots of nice trees :)

Hanging from the ceiling was a "zodiac" painting depicting the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, a common artwork in both shrines and temples.

A fairly typical small village shrine now in the middle of a large city.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yukawa Residence, Hagi


The Yukawa were a low ranking samurai family who lived along the Aiba Canal in Hagi. They were the keepers of the canal which is probably why their residence was larger than normal for people of their rank.


It only costs 100 yen to get in and look around and there are not so many visitors so it can be enjoyed quietly. Around the house are several stone water basins, tsukubai.


What is unusual about these samurai houses along the Aiba  are the hatoba, the covered inlets that allow for direct access to the flowing water for the kitchen and bathroom...


Well worth 100 yen and an hour of your time...


Monday, October 21, 2013

Rendai-ji. Temple 6 of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage

Rendai-ji, the sixth temple of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is located on a hilltop at 100 meters. The final approach is up 160 stone steps.

From the temple there are fine views down on Hikawa with Hirata off in the distance.

Its a Shingon temple, and has a Daishi-do as well as the main hall. There is a priests house but it looks to have been uninhabited for a while.

There was not much in the way of artwork, statues etc but I did like this small set of small, old, wooden statues. According to a sign its possible to walk a mountain path over towards temple number 7 but I decide to head back down the mountain and walk back to the nearest station and head home. Thats enough for this first 2-day leg of the pilgrimage.

Friday, October 18, 2013

More Avian manholes


It turns out that birds are quite a common design element in Japanese manhole designs.
Previous posts showing some can be found here. and here.

This first one is from the small island of Teshima in the Akinada Sea off of Hiroshima, and the bird is a cormorant.


This one is from Musashi Town, now a part of Kunisaki City in Oita. It depicts a pair of Mejiro, Japanese White-Eyes. For a photo of real Mejiro see this post


Sanko Town, now a part of Nakatsu City in Oita has a pair of Japanese Bush warblers, Uguisu, in Japanese. Strangely the town bird is the Mejiro.


Nago Town on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa features a pair of Ryukyu Mejiro.


Ishigaki City on the same island features an Akashobin, Ruddy Kingfisher in English. Common throughout east and southeast Asia it is quite rare in Japan.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sokinoya Shrine

Sokinoya Jinja

Sokinoya Shrine is listed in the Engi Shiki so it is at least 1,000 years old. It's located at the base of the hills south of Naoe in Hikawa.

Halfway up the steps is the store room holding the rather elegant mikoshi and other valuable equipment.

The main kami enshrined is Kihisakamitakahiko, and there is absolutely no information on him except that this area was once called Kihisa so he was probably the leader of the area. This rock in front of the shrine is reputed to be where he stood and prayed in the direction of Izumo Taisha across the plain below.

Visible behind the rock is a small shrine to Sarutahiko. It was moved here from its original site at a large rock outcropping further up the mountain. There is also a Kumano Shrine in the grounds.

For me, the most interesting secondary shrine in the rounds is the Karakuniidateho shrine. Karakuni means "from Korea", and there are numerous Karakuni shrines around Izumo and Iwami that enshrine Susano and his son Isotake that are manifestations of the legend/myth that Susano and his son arrived here from the Korean peninsula.