Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The last shrines in Tokushima

After leaving Saba Daishi I headed off down the coast on my 11th day of walking along the Shikoku Pilgrimage. By the afternoon I will have crossed over into Kochi Prefecture. I stopped in at every shrine I passed, as is my habit.

Shrines are great spots to take a rest in the shade. Even in urban areas they are quiet and peaceful. The architecture can be interesting and I'm always searching for stories and legends, and it is  at shrines are where you can find signs of them.

The art,... the statuary, masks, etc can also be quite diverse and yet something else I seek out....

And of course there are the trees..... shrines are often home to the oldest trees in the area. All in all I visited more than a dozen on this walk doewn the coast of Tokushima....

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Defeat of Saigo

On the banks of the Kitagawa River north of Nobeoka in Miyazaki is the Saigo Takamori Memorila Museum. On this site Saigo nade a temporary headquarters following the disasterous battle of Wadagoe in the mountains nearby.

Now reduced to probably only 3,000 men, and having lost all his artillery, Saigo declared the war over and ordered his army to surrender. With a few hundred of his most loyal followers he somehow managed to escape over the mountains and headed back towards Kagoshima and his suicidal last stand against the government forces.

The small museum has recently been renovated and improved, and the admission fee removed. There are quite a few materials on the battle, artifacts from the war, a replica of the uniform Saigo burned here, and the centrepiece is a tableau featuring Saigo and his men.

Just a few hundred meters away , and also recently renovated, is a small park containing what is claimed to be the burial mound of Ninigi, sent to Japan to rule on behalf of Amaterasu the sun goddess.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Mascot Manholes

There are more "cute" mascots per capita in Japan than anywhere else on the world by far. Last year a serious culling took place but still they continue to propagate. Among the latest is even one for the campaign to "promote" the cleanup of the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima.

To my mind such infantile mascots belong in the realm of the under 7's, but I seem to be in a minority. Its not surprising then that such mascots appear sometimes on the manhole and drain covers. The first is of one of the pair (male and female) of mascots for Sanda City in Hyogo. I believe it is based on the official city bird, the green pheasant.

The second depicts Ratochan, the official mascot of Oda City where Iwami Ginzan is located. It is based on the shell-candle miners used to take to light their work underground. The third is from Nakatsu. Kurokankun is based on Kuroda Kanbe, the samurai who built Nakatsu castle.

The fourth is Kintakun, the mascot of Kawanishi in Hyogo, and the final one is I think a cat in samurai helmet representing Hikone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Down the Kitagawa

I started my 18th day along the Kyushu Pilgrimage just across the border into Miyazaki. I started to follow one of the branches of the Kitagawa River as it flowed downhill towards Nobeoka. Walking long distances in japan means either walking the coastline which is relatively flat, or following a river up to a pass and then down the other side...... the path of least climbing.

For much of the year mist clings to the mountainsides and fills river valleys, and today was no exception. There are probably dozens of Kitagawa Rivers in Japan..... the name simple means North River. Most family names in Japan are derived from locations, so Kitagawa is a fairly common family name..... the most famous that springs to my mind being Kitagawa Utamaro, the famous Edo Period artist.

As is the nature of rivers, as one descends the route becomes less steep, the river larger, and the valley wider.....

The mist was at times so thick the sun became white. By lunchtime I was down much closer to sea level, the mist had long since burned off, I pass where a larger branch of the river joined up, and traffic had increased.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Hakata at Sunrise

Hakata at Sunrise 博多

Hakata at Sunrise.

The first time I visited Hakata I woke at 5 am in the morning and seeing as how the hotel's breakfast didn’t start until 7 am I took my camera and went out to explore.

Photo of Hakata in Kyushu.

Modern architecture is a gold mine for the kind of photography I like,... geometric, abstract, patterns, reflections, light and shadow...... None of the buildings were famous or by famous architects, just office buildings, hotels etc.

Photo by Jake Davies.

Sunrise is the optimum time for photography with the light and color and shadows being at their strongest. I quite happily snapped away and took more than 100 shots before breakfast.

Photo by Jake Davies.

These are a few of my favorites.

Photo by Jake Davies.

Design your own happi coat

Friday, August 3, 2018

South from Saiki: Day 17 of my walk around the Kyushu Pilgrimage

heading south out of Saiki, my next stop would be Nobeoka, and I had a couple of choices of route. Probably the prettiest would be the coast road, but I opted for the inland route over the mountains, pretty much following the rail line, as it would save me 20k. I left at sunrise.

The route went upstream one of the tributaries of the Banjo River. There was nothing of note along the route that I planned to visit.

I stopped in at a couple of interesting looking temples, and quite a lot of shrines.

Pointing to some kind of forest park, this giant Stag Beetle was a curious sight. It was still the height of the cherry blossom season. By sunset I had gone over the pass and was on my way down the Kitagawa River which would take me all the way to Nobeoka.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple 35 Kiyotaki-ji

At the end of my 17th day of walking I arrived at Kiyotakiji, the 35th temple of the pilgrimage, located on a mountainside overlooking Takaoka in Tosa City.

It's not so high, but with a steep approach. There were some fine Nio in the gate halfway up the final flight of stone steps. According to legend the temple was founded by Gyogi in 723 and he carved the honzon, a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha, which is a National Treasure.

Kobo Daishi visited here later and, in a ubiquitous legend created a spring with his staff, though here it became a waterfall which leads to the temples name which means "Clean Waterfall Temple".

The priests here were very kind, giving me permission to spend the night in the Tsuyado, free accomodations, quite a substantial one. They also asked if I needed any food, which I didn't. It was nice to be able to explore the grounds after dark.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tokosan Dainichi-ji

Tokosan Dainichi-ji is an urban temple in the old castle town of Saiki on the coast of southern Oita in Kyushu. I visited it on my 16th  day of walking along the Kyushu 108 temple pilgrimage which is composed of only Shingon temples.

It was founded in the very early 17th Century and was connected to the ruling family of the castle. It was never a big domain. The honzon is , not surpringly, Dainichi, the Great Sun Buddha.

I believe this is a statue of Binzaru, though it is in much better condition than many Binzaru statues which are normally rubbed by petitioners for healing purposes.

I believe this chubby figure is a Kannon, though back in those days I was not paying as much attention to the names of many of the statues I encountered,,,,,

This is probably a shrine to Dakiniten, the deity that played a large part in the formation of the popular kami Inari.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Minimal Geometric Abstract 3

Another photographic interlude of some of my favorite photos. Diagonal, shadow, and rust.... can't go wrong with that combination.

Architecture is an obvious choice of subject for the kind of imagery I am attracted to. Japanese tile roofs are a goldmine of pattern.....

Yin and Yang, positive and negative,..... not sure why but I seem to have a knack for seeing such things ....

curves and shadows......light and pattern....... of course sunsets, flowers, landscapes and such are beautiful, but we are surrounded by beauty in the man-made and natural world.....

Reflection, another subject that can't fail to produce....... my photography (and hence my "eye",... even my self) is very very simple.....

BTW I now have a large format photo printer so if anyone is interested in purchasing prints please let me know.... :)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Midsummer Kagura

Back in June we took some friends to a nightime outdoor kagura festival, the first time in a long time that I had watched some kagura.

I was delighted to see a dance , Iwagami, that I don't remember having seen before. It was performed by a group from Misumi, and so was Masuda-style with a couple of masks that I had also not seen before.

Some of the special effects were also new to me and so I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The demons also had a mask change which also pleased me.

There were about 6 dances in total and they were all enjoyable. The event was free, which also pleases me. I recently saw some adverts for some Iwami Kagura performances in Tokyo, and the tickets started at 5,000 yen. Suckers!