Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hiyoshi Shrine, Nogata


In the north of Nogata I came across this small Hiyoshi Shrine, one of about 4,000 branch shrines of Hiyoshi Taisha, the shrine complex associated with Enryakuji on Mount Hiei, and the origin of the Sanno Shinto sect.


The two kami enshrined in Hiyoshi shrines are Oyamakui and Okuninushi, corresponding to the east and west shrines at Hiyoshi Tasiaha.  Both are from in the Susano lineage, and Oyamakui being associated with the Korean immigrants who founded the first shrine at Hiyoshi.


One of the pairs of komainu were unusual, one standing upright, and the other, pictured here, doing a "handstand". These types can often be seen in a small ceramic form on shrine or temple roofs.


There was no signboard at the shrine so I have no idea about its history or secondary shrines in the grounds, but in one small shrine I did find this worn, wooden figure, though I dont know who it represents.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Chikurinji Temple 31 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Located next to the Makino Botanical Gardens in the south of Kochi City, the 5 storey pagoda of Chikurinji was built in 1980 to replace a smaller three storey pagoda that was destroyed in a typhoon in 1899.

Its the onlly temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage that is dedicated to Monju Bosatsu, and legend has it that Gyogi carved the statue.

According to the legend Emperor Shomu instructed Gyoki to find a mountain that resembled a sacred mountain in China named Godaisan in Japanese which is why the hill where Chikurinji is located is called Godaisan.

Reputedly Kukai spent some time here. It is now a Shingon temple. The Temples museum contains many National Treasures.

I found the Nio statues quite atmospheric. The top photo is of miniature wooden Jizo, and the 4th photo is at the Inari Shrine in the grounds.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nogata Memorial Hall of Coal

On the other side of the railway tracks to Taga Shrine in Nogata, Fukuoka,  is a small museum on the local coal industry called the Nogata Memorial Hall of Coal.

My father was a coalminer, as was his father, and I grew up near a big coal mine, so I have a particular interest. As a young lad I was a trainspotter so also have a soft spot for old steam engines of which there were a couple on display complete with puffing and whistling soundtrack

Most of the interesting stuff is lying around outside, but there are some displays inside.

I wrote a lengthy article on the place and the history of coal in Japan which you can read here.

The coal industry was closed down by the government with great hardship to many communities in Kyushu. Not because the coal ran out..... it is still there,.... but because middle eastern oil and nuclear were much cheaper.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Flowers of Shikoku part 3


Seeing lots of flowers in recent weeks prompts me to post these pics of flowers encountered along my walk on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.


I didn't walk it in the spring, but the other 3 seasons, so these photos are from late autumn and winter.


Of course not everything encountered in Japan is real..... fake flowers being particularly popular at temples......


Though lots of flowers are grown under glass year round to supply the need....


In late winter when I finished the pilgrimage the camelias were out. The two previous posts of Shikoku flowers are here and here

Monday, April 18, 2016

Taga Shrine Nogata


Taga Shrine in Nogata is the main shrine of the area and when I visited just before the new year they were getting ready for the influx of visitors in the new year.


It is unknown when the shrine was founded although it is believed there was a Myoken Shrine here in the Heian Period. The kami enshrined here are Izanagi and Izanami.


Also enshrined here is Hachiman, though I suspect he was a later addition.


The Kuroda clan changed its name  to Taga Shrine in 1691 and made it the tutelary shrine of the area. The crest is of a pair of wagtails.


About twenty young girls were busy learning their duties as temporary miko for the busiest few days of the shrines year,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ensei-ji & Konpira-sha


Enseiji Temple, located down a small side street in Hagi is an example of something that was once the norm but is now unusual, it is both a temple and a shrine on the same site.


It is home to the biggest stone lantern in the prefecture as well as a huge Tengu mask. It is famous for being the temple where Ito Hirobumi, Japans first Prime Minister, studied as a child. I did hear that his uncle was a priest here.


The reason given why the shrine and temple were not forced to seperate is that they were holding writings of an imperial princess from several centuries earlier. As stated it doesnt make sense, but they were not forced to separate.


The shrine is a Konpira, a branch of the famous one on Shikoku known for protection for sea journeys. The temple part is Shingon and the honzon is a Jizo. The temple was founded in the 13th Century, a long time before the castle town was built.


Friday, April 8, 2016

More Monkeys of Koshinsha


I am intrigued by the eclectic collections of figures left at various kinds of "folk" altars around Japan.


So here are some more of the monkeys left at Koshinsha in Nogata.


Toys and dolls can often be found alongside icons from Shinto, Buddhism, Hinduism and even sometimes Christianity.


Sarubobo dolls and ema were also prevalent.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kumano Sansho Omiwasha


I started my walk along the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage in Nachi on the south coast of Wakayama. The first temple is Seigantoji at the famous Nachi Falls, and for the first 8 days the Saigoku Pilgrimage follows the Kumano Kodo.


Just across from the station in Nachi is Kumano Sansho Omiwasha, a subsidiary shrine of Nachi Taisha, and right next door to Fudurakusanji, the temple it was a part of until the separation of shrines and temples in early Meiji.


People would stop at the shrine to purify before heading next door to the temple and then on up the valley to the falls.


The three kami enshrined here are the three Kumano kami enshrined at Nachi, Shingu, and Hongu, Fusumi no okami, Hayatamano, and Ketsumiko no mikoto.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Some monkeys at Koshinsha


The popular form of Koshin worship is now associated with the famous three monkeys and also with Sarutahiko. Statues of monkeys are therefore often found at Koshin sites.


At the Koshinsha in Nogata there were dozens and dozens of them, though my favorite must be the one in the first photo. A very happy monkey.


The eclectic collections of statues and dolls left by devotees at sacred sites popular in what is called "folk" religion around Japan intrigue me.


The figure below, a monkey carrying a gohei. a purification wand, is something I have seen a few times before.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Koshinsha, Nogata


Koshinsha is a site dedicated to the Koshin faith. Origiunally Chinese Taoist in essence it was introduced into japan from Korea in the 8th Century.


Adherents stay awake all night every 60 days on Ko Shin days to stop 3 "worms" from leaving their body and reporting to a god about their good and bad behaviour.


Koshin faith became influenced by Buddhism, and in the middle of the Edo period by a branch of Confucian Shinto that equated the faith with Sarutahiko. In Meiji it was discredited as "superstition" though it has survived a little. There is also a small Inari shrine in the grounds.


At some point in its history the symbolism of the three monkeys became a part of it, and that is its most common identity today.