Monday, September 8, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 21 Kiyomizudera

I have been to Kiyomizudera several times, but this was the first time I approached through the old pilgrim trail through the mountains. This way brings you to the Nio Gate. Most people come to the temple by car from the opposite side, and for them the Niomon is "behind" the temple. I have posted on the nio and some of the Fudo Myo statues here.

It has the only 3 storied pagoda in the San-in region. Kiyomizudera means "temple of pure water" and there are many temples named this across Japan, but this may be the oldest.

There is a nice set of Inari shrines and altars in the grounds. More photos can be found here.

It is now a Tendai sect temple and as well as being on the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage it is also on the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, so I will be back here as I have started to walk that one too.

An earlier post with more of the history can be found here. Today I did not dally as it was getting late and I wanted to reach the next temple, Unjuji, a few K downhill from here before ending this leg of the pilgrimage.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ascending Sanbesan


Towards the end of the first day of my walk along the Iwami 33 Kannon Pilgrimage I was close to the base of Mount Sanbe. It had taken me all day to walk more than 20k from Oda City and had climbed about 500 meters. My plan was to meet a friend on top of Sanbe to spend the night, so another 600 meters of climbing to go.


I was going up by the most travelled trail on the northern slope. Since leaving Oda there had been no stores, convenient or otherwise, but in the recreation area at the base of the mountain was a Sanbe Burger. The only Sanbe Burger on the planet I believe. Late on a Friday afternoon in early November I was the only customer. After filling my belly I headed off with some trepidation. I don't like climbing! I'd been walking all day and was tired, but to get from a to b in Japan you are going to have to climb some.


At 500 meters plus there was still a lot of green, but the color change was starting.


Higher still, most of the green had gone, save for the moss.


Higher still and the light was fading, and then suddenly I was on top. I was really surprised. It was easier than I had expected. Maybe I have gotten better at pacing myself. I certainly haven't gotten any younger. A couple of minutes after reaching the summit young Wes appeared having come up by a different trail.


My posts on the sunset and the next days sunrise can be found below this post.

Wes's account can be found here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 20 Chodaiji

Chodai-ji, a Tendai temple, is close to the border with Tottori, and the most easterly of all the temples on the pilgrimage.

"It is said" that the temple was founded by Gyoki, which would make it about 1300 years old. The temple was completely destroyed by a flood, but a local farmer had a dream that led him to the spot where the main statue was found miraculously undamaged.

In the early 18th Century the local daimyo, a Matsudaira, renovated and enlarged the temple.

There is a small Amida-do in the grounds as well as a small shrine.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Minimal Geometric Abstract

February in my village 3548

Most of the photography I am doing nowadays is documentary in nature. I photograph the things I encounter on my walks around Japan.


However, my real love is for images that are minimal, geometric, and abstract. Images concerned with pure composition.

48 Hours. 360 of 600

It is not important what the picture is "of". It is the interplay of line, shape, form, light, and shade.


So, here are a few of my personal favorites......

One Day in Coventry4774

Monday, September 1, 2014

Otaki Shrine

Still within site of Nogi Shrine, yet another shrine with an ancient pedigree, being listed in both the Izumo Fudoki and the Engi Shiki.

I came in through the rear entrance so the way to the buildings was through a nice piece of woodland.

Like all the shrines in the area there was a zuijinmon as well as an altar to Kojin, the rope snake.

Otaki Shrine is a Gosha, 5 shrines collected into one place. The primary kami is Kunitama which seems to be a generic name for the kami of the land. Next up is Otanomikoto, a descendant of Sarutahiko who either gave the land for what became Ise Shrine, or led Yamatohime to the place while she was searching for a new home to enshrine Amaterasu. Also enshrined is Isotakeru and Inari.

Secondary shrines within the grounds are a Tenmangu, Atago, & Hiyoshi.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tombo. Japanese Dragonflies


There are about 200 types of dragonfly in Japan, each with its own name, and I have absolutely no idea which ones these photos are of, so I use the generic "Tombo"


Associated with late summer and early autumn, the Tombo has a deep and rich relationship with Japanese culture, not least of which is an ancient name for Japan meaning Dragonfly Isles.


Found as an artistic symbol as far back as the Yayoi Period, the dragonfly was adopted by samurai and appear on helmets and swords. It also appears much in Haiku.


With the heavy use of chemical pesticides the tombo no longer appear in the numbers they used to.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sanematsu Hachimangu

Sanematsu Hachimangu

Within sight of Nogi Shrine is the local village shrine Sanematsu Hachimangu. While being a fairly common village shrine in many areas of Japan, there are surprisingly few hachimangus in Izumo.

Like most shrines in Izumo there are a couple of altars to Kojin, the rope serpent. By far the commonest kami in the region, he/she is relatively unknown. I am not sure of the gender. In my area the equivalent kami is Omoto and she is female.

The shrine also has a Zuijinmon with a fine pair of zuijin and wooden komainu. When I first walked this valley many years ago I was struck by the fact that every single shrine had a zuijinmon.

The other thing that struck me is that none of the shrines in the area had a toilet. Most shrines I visit have a simple, pit toilet in the grounds. But in this valley not a single shrine does.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Iyadani Kannon


On the ninth day of my walk along the Shikoku Pilgrimage, after leaving temple 22, Byodo-ji, I took the main road heading for the coast of Tokushima. After spening 100 days on Mount Tairyuji Kukai must have taken the same route because a sign pointed to Iyadani Kannon, a little detour off the main road and a site supposedly founded by Kukai.


Apparently he left "7 Wonders", one of them being this large rock that is supposed to be balanced in such a way that a single finger can cause it to rock.


There were some interesting old statues and some rock carvings.


Everything was moved to this current location when the nearby dam and reservoir were created.


Well worth the little detour, and a nice break from the main road. The sign pointing to it is a couple of kilometers past Awafukui Station on Route 55.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nogi Shrine

This Nogi Shrine has absolutely no link to the more famous Nogi Shrine in Tokyo. That one is a twentieth century creation enshrining the "patriotic" General Nogi who committed suicide following the death of Emperor Meiji.

This Nogi Shrine is named after the ancient district of Nogi in Izumo, and is much, much older being listed in the Izumo Fudoki and the Engi Shiki. It was one of the top three shrines of Izumo, along with Kumano Taisha and Sada Shrine, up until the 11th Century when Izumo Taisha was promoted.

The main kami is Amenohiho, the first emissary sent from Amaterasu to convince Izumo to cede their land to Yamato. The Yamato say he joined Okuninushi and didn't report back. The Izumo say he did report back and his son came down to pacify the local kami. Amenohiho is considered the ancestor of the high priests/ governors of Izumo.

There are numerous smaller shrines within the grounds as well as a couple of altars to Kojin, the local land kami represented as a straw snake. Also enshrined here is Onamuchi (Okuninushi), Kotoshironushi, Hachiman, Futsunushi ( the tuteary kami of the Mononobe who played a part in subduing the local kami).

Also enshrined are Kuninotokotachi one of the primal kami of creation, Kuninosazuchi, an earth kami, Izanami, Tamayorihime, Juntoku a thirteenth century Emperor, kamusubi, Ayakashikone... a kami produced before Izanami and Izanagi who I had never heard of before, an Atago shrine, and an Inari shrine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kada's Forest


Umi Hachimangu, like many shrines, is set within a grove of trees. The grove at Umi is called Kada's Forest, after the original name of the area, Kata. It is composed of huge, ancient Camphor trees, Kusunoki in Japanese.


The Kusunoki is the largest species of hardwood in Japan and is found in the warmer western part of the archipelago, especially Kyushu, where many shrines will have them in their grounds.


The wood contains a natural insect repellant and is used as moth balls. It is also made into incense and was used to make Buddhist statues in the early Nara Period until a switch to mostly Nutmeg and then later Cypress.


The two largest trees at Umi Hachimangu are registered as National Treasures and are reputed to be 2,000 years old. The biggest is over 18 meters tall and with a spread of similar width. The circumference around the root base is 24 meters.