Friday, September 10, 2021

Morikawa Residence Garden in Takehara

Morikawa Residence Garden

The Morikawa Residence was a "mansion" for a very wealthy merchant in Takehara on the south coast of Hiroshima/ Because so much of its historical streets and buildings still remain it is classed as a Preservation District and is also known as the "Little Kyoto of Ali". I wrote an earlier post about the Takehara Preservation District.

Morikawa built his new mansion in 1916, so it not so old, however it was built in traditionalstyle and is very large and open to the public. He was also the mayor of the town, showing that wealth and political power have always gone hand in jhand. An earlier post shows interiors of the mansion.

The Morikawa residence of course has a traditional Japanese garden, or rather three gardens. The main garden wraps around the property in an L shape and is therefore viewable from many different rooms.

It also has a Tsuboniwa, that is often translated as "courtyard garden" These can sometimes be very small, but as befittig a mansion the one here is mid-sized.

Often a Tsuboniwa is completey enclosed on all four side by the buildings, but here there is a narrow gap that connects to the main garden. Many of the rooms that do not look out onto the main garden can view the Tsuboniwa.

There was a third garden, a small front garden that you pass through from the gate to the entrance. I didn't photograph it. They are usually the most minimal with less plant and many rocks.

In a few of the first photos, you can see splashes of bright blue. These are plastic tarps spread over some bushes to protect them while the gardener was pruning some trees.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Mizuta Tenmangu

Mizuta Tenmangu

A few miles north of the Geibunkan is the small town of Mizuta and the main shrines is a Tenmangu with this unusual Torii.

It was founded in 1226 as a branch of Dazaifu Tenmangu, the burial place of Sugawara Michizane north of here. Dazaifu was the "capital" of Kyushu. Suguwara Michizane was a high-ranking courtier in Kyoto who was "exiled" to Dazaifu by his rivals at court.

He died shortly afterwards and his enemies began to die off and so it was believed that Michizane was operating as an "angry ghost", a very important component of Japanese beliefs. To appease his spirit he was posthumously promoted and also enshrined as Tenjin in Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto.

Tenjin is now considered a kind of patron saint of education and students will pray at Tenmangu shrines for success with exams and such.

The current main hall of the shrine was a reconstruction built in the early 17th century. It is said that Mizuta Tenmangu is the second-largest Tenmangu shrine in Kyushu after Dazaifu tenmangu.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Takuno to Nima

Takuno to Nima

Takuno is a small fishing port that I visited late on the third day of my walk along the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage, my local Kannon pilgrimage here in the western half of Shimane. I had stopped in at Hateiji temple, number 5 on the pilgrimage, and also the Hachman Shrine next door to it. Before leaving I went to the small harbour to check out once again the intriguing shrine on the small offshore islets connected to the myth of Susano.

Takunoi had been a Kitamaebune port, a safe haven for trade ships to stop, and so was a little wealthier due to the business of lodging sailors and also with the establishment of some merchants, and this shows in the remaining examples of old buildings, many of which are empty and abandoned, like much of rural Jaoan.

On my way out of town I saw a small grove of trees and was surprised to find a largem gnarly tree with two trunks that had been marked as sacred by the addition of shimenawa. There was no signboard and nobody around to ask so the story of the place remains a mystery to me.

After a few hundred meters and passing a couple of small rock coves I arrive at the beach at Nima.

Here I discovered one of the numerous breeding grounds of the infamous Japanese tetrapod. Tetrapods must outnumber the people in Jaan many times over. Ubiquitous is truly the only word. Why it is that these strange creatures grow here so much more than in the rest of the world must be related to Japan's unique love of nature.

This unusual and whimsical sign warns to be on the lookout for the smuggling of nefarious people as well as contraband, and also to generally watch out for marine safety.

Small fish drying is not anynusual sight in the many small coastal communities. These are a San-in specialty, Nigisu, Deep Sea Smelt. I suspect these will find their way to some incredibly over-priced omiyage outlet.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Geibunkan Annex 2 by Kengo Kuma


At the Kyushu Geibunkan in the Chikugo area the second annex was also designed by Kengo Kuma.

It gets much more attention than the first annex, but I prefer the first. The second annex is a small pavilion with a large arbor.

Much is made of its modular nature, with all the parts of the arbor roof structure being the same .

I akso include a couple of more shots of the main building, just because I like the irregularity of it.

Finally here is a shot of the Chikugo Funagoya Shinkansen Station which is right next to the Geibunkan, both of which pretty much stand alone amoing the rice paddies.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Cape Oyama Kannon


After descending from Konomine Shrine and Konomineji temple 27 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the route heads north up the coast of Lochi and you soon reach Cape Oyama. Not sure of the proper definition of a cape, but to my mind Cape Oyama does not extend out into the sea enough, though it is a pretty section of coast with rocky outcroppings and cliffs.

There is a small cave in one section and it has a small chapel/shrine with a Kannon statue. Or rather it had. It seems that it no longer exists, though it may be reinstated.

It seems that during earthquakes rocks used to fall from the roof of the cave quite easily and so it was always considered somewhat dangerous. There was an elevated cafe in front of the cave and some huge pillars erected to hold up the cave roof.

There was also a statue of Kobo Daishi in the cave which suggests some kind of link with him.

Recent photos show the small chapel destroyed and the cafe closed. Maybe it was storm damage or collapsing rocks, or a combination of both. Maybe it will be restored, or maybe not/

Increasingly I find that the some of subjects of my photographs and blogposts have ceased to exist. Maybe I should have a seperate blog called Glimpse of Disappeared Japan"

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Kyushu Geibunkan Annex one


The Kyushu Geibunkan  in southern Fukuoka is a large, modern, ""Culture Hall" designed by Kengo Kuma. Nearby in the park space surrounding the main building are two annexes, also designed by him.

Annex i is a long, narrow building of small studios, all of which seem to have exterior walls of glass. The building has a flat, overhanging roof.

The roofs shape is indented with sweeping curves that touch each other at a sharp point.

The best way to describe it for me is to imagine an elongated, exaggerated holly leaf.

I am quite fond of curves in architectural space, especially for the kind of photo compositions I lean toward.

Monday, August 30, 2021

A room with a view at Nameshi Dam

Nameshi Dam

Early evening on the 2nd may, 2017, and I arrived at the place I would spend the night. A wide roof with a wooden bench overlooking the small reservoir behind Nameshi Dam on the Togo River near the centre of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

I havent used a tent in more than 30 years, preferring to sleep under the stars when possible, and in a bivvy sack if its wet. Here I had toilets nearby and drinks vending machines. There is a small shop but it has never been open whenever I was here. There is a replica waterwheel, many cheery trees that have passed theor blossom by date, and a small house used as a vacation rental I believe.

I had slept out here about four and a half years previously in November 2012. Then I was at the end of my first day of a 5 day walk across and around the Kunisaki Peninsula and I had started the day at the famous Usa Hachiman Shrine, and I was exploring sites along the anciet Hachiman-Tendai Shugendo pilgrimage route. Photos of the sunset that day are here

On the next day of that trip, I carried on east up along the river and then over the centre of the peninsula and on to the coast. On this trip, I will be heading over the dam and into the mountains and be following, to a large extent, the Kunisakihanto Minemichi Long Trail which closely follows the old pilgrimage route. I'm actually on the first day of my walk along the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, but as the first clister of temples are all here on the Kunisaki Peninsua I decided to visit them by useing the Minemichi trail.

It has been an excellent day and as the next days route is largely along mountain trails rather than roads I am excited. Here are links to the sights of my first day.

Taizoji                 Demons Stairway                 Not the Village of Dolls                 Treasures of Makiodo

            More Kunisaki Cliff Carvings                                             Tachibu Motomiya Hachimansha 

Fuki-Ji Temple                             Yama Shrine                                 Umi Shrine

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Kyushu Geibunkan by Kengo Kuma


I had passed by this building several times on the train and was determined to visit it to explore when my walk took me through this section of the country.

Called the Kyushu Geibunkan, it is a kind of "culture center" and it is located slap bang in the middle of a rural area with only small towns and villages in the area . It is also located adjacent to a Shinkansen station that also seems anomalous,  and just a few hundred meters from Komyoji Temple that I had just visited as part of the Kyushu Pilgrimage.

In some climates, Japan in particular, the main focus of buildings is the roof. So it is here at the Geibunkan, though it actually has dozens of roofs, and not a single one is rectangular. Lots of triangles and trapezoids all joined together higgeldy-piggeldy, with some of the roofs almost touching the ground.

Though the front of the building seems somewhat simple and monolithic, the exterior is far more fragmented and disjoined which I suspect makes for some interesting interior spaces. I must admit I regret not having gone inside or explored the rear more.

As well as the wide range of intersecting and connecting shapes the building also uses a variety of different materials and textures which adds to the interest.

The building was designed by Kengo Kuma and opened in 2013. I have visited several of his buildings before but I believe this is the first time I have posted on this blog. My opinion of him worsened after his campaign against the winning design for the Olympic Stadium, which I liked, and having it replaced with his own design.

In the park around the building are a couple of annexes, asodesigned by Kengo Kuma which will get their own posts soon....