Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Latest Masks


The two latest masks I completed. Every winter I have a rather optimistic plan to finish lots of new masks. Summers are too humid to make them as everything stays soft and doesn't dry properly. As usual the universe conspires to give me so many chores to do that I don't get the time I want on my masks.


These are two of the most popular of my masks. The customer has been waiting for them for a year. Obviously a very patient man, but he did say that my masks were worth waiting for. Sucker for flattery that I am. The garden will be demanding my time in a moon or two, but hopefully I will get time now for some new masks. I have been trying to finish a couple of Kitsune masks for three years now......

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Manhole Rice


The most common motif by far  used in the designs on manhole covers in japan is the cherry blossom. Considering the central place occupied by rice in Japanese identity it is surprising that it does not appear more often than it does. This first one is from Mizuho up in the mountains near where Iwami meet Hiroshima.


I found this second one in the village of Koshita south of Usa in northern Kyushu.


Also in northern Kyushu, but on the opposite side in Fukuoka, this one is from Itoshima, one of the very ancient centers of early Japanese intereactions with Asia.


The final one is from near Kurayoshi in Tottori and it shows a farm woman using a senbakoki, a threshing machine with a steel "comb" that separates the the easr and grains from the stalks. Prior to its invention in the 17th Century a tool made from a piece of split bamboo, a kokibashi, was used.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kibune-gu Shrine, Iizuka


Pronounced Kifune but written Kibune, this small local shrine in the outskirts of Iizuka is a branch of the famous Kifune shrine north of Kyoto.


The nameplate on the fairly new torii names it as Kibune-gu, and this is the first time I have seen gu used for a Kibune shrine. Gu is often applied to Hachiman and Tenjin shrines, Hachimangu and Tenmangu, and shrine terminology has become somewhat confusing since the establishment of Shinto in the mid 19th Century. Commonly when I am asking locals about a shrine they will use the term Omiya.


Kifune shrines enshrine two water kami, Takaokami and Kuraokami, associated strongly with rainfall. It was donating horses to the shrine in the case of drought or flood that traditiona has it led to Ema, votive plaques.


There were numerous small secondary shrines in the grounds, some no doubt local Aragami, but there was no information signboard so I cannot be specific.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

TKP Garden City, Hiroshima


TKP Garden City is another of the high rises built along Heiwa Dori, the road leading to the Peace Park in Hiroshima.


Its listed as a conference center with spaces for meetings and events.


I haven't been able to find out who the architect is, and there is nothing extraordinary about the building.


I like it because it allows me to take one of the kinds of photographs that I like :)


Friday, January 15, 2016

Shohoji Frogs


There were a lot of frogs at Shohoji, temple 93 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage. The word for "frog", kaeru, is the word for "return", and so there is an association between frogs and returning safely.


The first photo is a very stylized statue of a frog covered in prayer requests. I would have thought the prayers would have concentrated on safe returns but in fact the full gamut of requests is represented:- passing exams, finding a girlfriend etc etc. This second photo is of Daikoku in the form of a frog.


Shohoji is known as "Child Frog Temple", with temple number 3, Nyorinji, being the "Parent Frog Temple". I will be getting to that temple much later in the pilgrimage. The priest at Shohoji is the son of the priest at Nyorinji.


The honzon of the temple is Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. In a secondary hall was I think an Amida statue and hundreds of childrens toy frogs including none other than Kermit.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Zenkakuji Temple 30 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Located north of Kochi City, Zenrakuji was not temple number 30 for almost 100 years. It was/is located right next to a big shrine, now called Tosa Jinja, and when Shinto and Buddhism were seperated the temple was damaged. The honzon, Amida Nyorai, was moved to Anrakuji which then became temple 30.

In 1929 Zenrakuji was re-established but no buildings were erected until 1938, however Anrakuji refused to return the honzon. Later Zenrakuji changed to the same sect as Anrakuji with the same priest presiding over both, but Anrakuji stayed as temple 30. At some point in the 1970's the honzon moved back to Zenrakuji and it once again became temple 30.

The original temple  is credited to Kobo Daishi but it was built under orders of Emperor Shomu and re-established by Kobo Daishi.

The current temple is made of concrete and is architecturally not interesting. Neighboring Tosa Shrine however does have a lot of nice, traditional architecture.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Kyushu 108 Pilgrimage Temple 93 Shohoji


I began the third day of my walk around Kyushu visiting Nanzoin in Sasaguri, though this was not one of the 108 pilgrimage temples on my route.


After Nanzoin the road dropped down out of the mountains into the Iizuka valley and by lunchtime I reached Shohoji, one of the twenty "extra" temples added on to the main 88. Like all temples on this particular pilgrimage it belonged to the Shingon sect.


The young priest welcomed me and made me a cup of tea, something that would happen quite often on this walk. Its not a very popular pilgrimage even among Japanese, and I was truly made to feel a guest by many temples.


He told me that his father was the priest of a temple not too far from here that I would be visiting in the later stages of the pilgrimage. He also told me his father had walked the whole pilgrimage .


The honzon of the temple was a seated Yakushi Nyorai, and there was a pair of stone nio, in the now prevalent, standard, national, style, a small Fudo, and several Jizo. What there was a lot of was frogs......

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Grand Tour: London Aquatics Centre


After Colchester we stopped in at the Olympic Park in London.


The distinctive Aquatics centre was designed by Zaha Hadid, who is well known here in Japan for having designed the new olympic stadium but then having the design rejected.


There are some design similarities between the two projects, and I have no idea what the general opinion is but I quite like it. I also liked her Tokyo proposal.


In general I like architecture that utilizes curves. I would have liked to go inside but we were short of time.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nanzoin Temple part 3


The final post on some of the multitude of statues at Nanzoin temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka. here is a nice tableau of the shichifukujin, the seven Lucky Gods.


In every nook and cranny there are tiny Jizo statues....


These seem to be a Buddhist Jizo version of the 7 lucky gods.....


yet more Jizo.......


Sakimori were various forms of frontier guardians, and this curious statue is a memorial to police, sdf, coast guard and firefighters....

Friday, January 1, 2016