Thursday, February 17, 2022

Surreal & Psychedelic Shisa of Ishigaki Island


Just across the road from Yonehara Beach in central Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, is the Yoneko Yaki craft centre where you can see and buy, among other things,  examples of traditional Okinawan shisa.

However, outside you can see a wide variety of large, colorful statues that seem to be based on shisa.

Their shaes seem alien and surreal, and their color schemes are very vibrant and somewhat psychadelic. 

They are sray-painted so also have the feel of graffiti art.

We were there in the off-season and the lace was closed so were unable to find out about the origin and history of them.

However, they were whimsical without being kawaii, the Japanese cultural style that seems to be growing into a dominant format, that also seems to be very popular. I personally find kawaii somewhat offensive, but then I don't enjoy Marvel superhero movies , so what do I know.

Ishigaki Sea Salt

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

Hita, the historic town in the mountains of Oita, is one of many towns throughout Japan with their own Gion Matsuri, the festival that originated in Gion, Kyoto.

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

The festival takes place at the end of July, but for those who visit at other times there is a museum that displays the large festival floats throughout the year.


Like many matsuri, the Gion Matsuri involves a series of floats, and they are called Yamaboko because of how tall they are.


Hita has six different yamaboko, each one pulled by a different district of the town, and they are 8 meters tall and very colorfully decorated.

As well as the floats the museum also displays other things from the festival culture,  like masks

I arrived at the museum just after it closed but a gentleman from city hall nagged the old lady in charge to let me in for my own private viewing.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Canal City Hakata

Canal City Hakata, 博多

A couple of months ago I took advantage of a lull in the pandemic and went on a trip to north Kyushu. This involved my first visit to a city in over 2 years.

In my quest to visit ,what were for me, the exotic and unusual, I revisited Canal City in Hakata, a "Cathedral of Consumption".

Japanese shopping malls are for the most part architecturally bland, usually resembling industrial scale warehousing, but a few are not.

The interior of CanalCity is a meandering "canyon" with a water feature running along its base. It is also quite colorful.

Canal City was designed by American architect Jon Jerde, and the architecture is somewhat inspired by the canyon country of the American southwest. He also designed another colorful complex called Riverwalk in Kokura.

Like a methadone clinic or a pachinko parlor, people were lining up to enter before the doors opened.

Japan Shop

Friday, February 11, 2022

Hitotsumatsu Residence in Kitsuki

Hitotsumatsu Residence in Kitsuki

Hitotsumatsu Residence in Kitsuki.

Sadayoshi Hitotsumatsu was a Japanese politician who served as a cabinet minister in several of the first post-war cabinets of the government.

In 1929 he built a mansion in the castle town of Kitsuki in Oita. It was built in a combination of traditional and western styles.

While mostly appearing traditional, it does have a lot of glass which enable great views of the castle and sea as well as back over the old town.

It's built on the high point of the southern escarpment, of the two pieces of high ground that were occupied by the samurai, with the lower classes sandwiched between on the low ground.

Being a little closer to the castle, Minami-dai was the district for the highest-ranked samurai. Nearby is the former Nakane residence and garden, as well as the towns museum.

The other samurai quarter retains more of the original samurai residences and many are open to the public

Kitsuki is one of my favorite towns and is less visited by tourists, mainly due to the closest station being some distance from the town. A few more of my Kitsuki posts....

Shop Japan

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Myo-o-ji Temple 95 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage

Myo-o-ji Temple 95

Alsoknown as Tansofudosonmyoo Temple, Myo-o-ji is number 95 on the Kyushu ilgrimage and the reason I was in Hita on the 53rd day of my walk.

It was established here in the 1890's after being transferred from Nakatsu. A local priest had walked the Shikoku pilgrimage and was inspired to set up a temple, but at that time it was illegal to establish a new Buddhist temple.

The solution was to transfer an existing temple from somewhere else. It is not clear if any actual structure was transferred, or even if the honzon was transferred. Sometimes just the name of a temple was transferred.

The honzon is a Fudo Myo-o and therefore they conduct goma rituals here.

In the second photo is a shrine to Mizuko Kuyo, primarilydevoted to prayers for aborted children.

There was a great painting of what I believe is not Fudo, but a different Myo-o. Not sure ecxactly which of the Wisdom Kings it is as they appear in many forms, but it may well be Gozanze, though it could be Godari.

Shop Japan

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Sumiyoshi Shrine Hakata

Sumiyoshi Shrine Hakata

Sumiyoshi Shrine in Hakata is a large, historic shrine near the river that in ancient times was much closer to the mouth of the river and the sea.

It enshrines three kami that were associated with safety for sea journeys. The head shrine is Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka, but it is believed that this one in Hakata is the original.

The current main hall was built in 1673 and is a National Treasure. The Sumiyoshi kami are associated with the mythical Empress Jingu, and she is also now enshrined here.

Within the extensive, wooded grounds of the shrine is also an Ebisu Shrine, and several Inari Shrines. Next door is the Rakusuien Garden.

Ema Votive Plaques

Friday, February 4, 2022

Kasai Residence & Garden

Kasai Residence & Garden

Takehara, on the coast of Hiroshima, is one of those towns with a well-preserved section of the old town that have been recognized as preservation districts.

Some of the old buildings are open to the public. Earlier I posted about the Morikawa Residence and its garden.

I'm pretty sure this is the former Kasai Residence, a well-to-do merchant family, though not as wealthy as the Morikawas

I came late to an appreciation of traditional Japanese architecture and gardens, and so I didn't take as many photos nor notice so much back when I visited Takehara.

Most visitors pass through Takehara on their way to visit Rabbit Island", a mecca for those seeking cute. For those with those who appreciate the traditional, Takehara offers a combined ticket which gives reduced entry prices to several of the old houses in the town.

Ema Votive Plaques

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Hita Preservation District in 2D


A series of photos taken in the historical preservation district in Hita, Oita, that focus on two-dimensional composition. Similar to the recent post I did on Omori.

Traditional Japanese architecture offers a variety of pleasing proportions and textures.

Juxtaposing with  natural forms.......

Sometimes a simple, repetitive pattern works..... this is in front of a museum of the local matsuri which I will cover in a future post....

Existing artwork and advertising is often a good subject. One wonders what a compulsory fire might be.

Many times property owners create their own aesthetic arrangements.....

A fundamental function of the photographer is to choose where to place the frame.....

If you happen to enjoy any of my posts, please feel free to share. Also a comment is always appreciated

Ema Votive Plaques