Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Shufuan at Kangien in Hita


Shufuan was built in 1781 as a residence by Hirose Gekka, a haiku poet and member of the wealthy, local merchant family of Hirose.


In the early 10th century it became part of a private academy started by his nephew, Hirose Tanso.

The school grew and was named Kangien, kangi means "everything is fine"

By the time it closed in 1897, about 5,000 students from all over Japan had passed through the school, making it the private school of the period.

Kangien was also known for accepting students from all classes, not just samurai, and possibly even some females. Another school of the time famous for accepting all classes of student is the Shizutani School in Okayama.

Shufuan is one of two buildings from the school that are still remaining. Both are free to enter and explore.. The other building, Tanso's favorite study Enshiro, I will post next.

Shufuan is unusual in having a usable second floor. Also at the site is a small museum about Hirose Tanso and Kangien. Everything is free to enter.

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Monday, March 7, 2022

Funatama Shrine to Chikatsuyu

Funatama Shrine

This post covers the rest of my third day walking along the Kumano Kodo as part of the Saigoku Pilgrimage that follows the same route for the first week or so. After stopping at Funatama Shrine I carried on through the silent forest.

I then realized what it was that had been making me feel uncomfortable for so much of the walk through the mountains the last few days....... I was mostly walking through tree farms..... With a few exceptions, most of the forest was composed of evenly spaced trees of the same age and species.... the community of other plant and animal species was minimal..... quite unnatural....

I then passed through the remains of a small settlement that was abandoned in the 1960's. Metal pots, bits of chairs, and other bits and pieces as well as a few collapsed structures  are all that is left. Even in my own area in the 21st century, small settlements in remote mountain locations continue to disappear.

I ass several Oji, the shrines along the route. There are, I believe, 100 Oji between Hongu and Osaka.

There were also other wayside altars, this one being to Ebisu.

Several times I crested passes and would then get views across the country.

I was pleasanty surprised to find a wayside altar to Fudo Myoo. There doesnt seem to be many on this ilgrimage. Maybe it is more Tendai than Shingon?

In a tiny settlement of a few homes I found this unusual dispenser of free, cold drinks. I think this was the first instance of osettai, giving alms to pilgrims, that i found on this pilgrimage.

After passing Nonaka no Shimizu spring I soon found myself in Chikatsuyu, a large settlement and a stopping point with quite a few, pricey guesthouses, all fully-booked weeks and months ahead. On my first day after climbing up from Nachi, I met a Frenchman who had spent the night on the floor of the disabled toilets in a park here as he had been unable to find any lodgings or good places to sleep out. As I passed one guesthouse the owner was in front cleaning the steps, so as last-minute cancellations are not unheard of I asked if he happened to have a room for the night. He looked at me as if I had asked to sleep with his daughter.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Ohori Park Fukuoka


Ohori Park in central Fukuoka is a large park built around a large pond ( or small lake)

It was built between 1926 and 29 and modeled on the West Lake in China, and incoprorated part of the moat of Fukuoka Castle.

Three narrow islands in the lake are connectd to each other and the shore by bridges.

The park is home to a lot of wildlife, especially waterfowl.

The circumference of the lake is almost 2 kilometers, and has paths for joggers and strollers

You can also rent boats.

At the southern end of the park is a traditional Japanese garden (which I will cover next), and near it the Fukuoka Art Museum. Also within the park is a Noh Theatre stage and a Starbucks

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Mukai-an Temple Koshin-do Temple & Saisho-an Temple on the Shodoshima Pilgrimage

Mukai-an Temple


Christmas Eve, 2015, was fast drawing to a close, and I still had three more temples to visit on the route back to my ryokan. I had just come down  from Mount Dounzan and the amazing cave temples, Dounzan and Goishizan, and then stopped in at Jokoji, temple 8, on this, my first day walking the Shodoshima pilgrimage.


Temple number 7, as with 9 and 10, was just a small unmanned building. The honzon is an Amida.

Just a couple of days past the winter solstice, the sun was rushing down and it becane obvious that it would soon be dark so I did not tarry nor explore

Temple 9 was Koshin-do, a site of the very popular Koshin cult. A Daoist cult/faith, it is most well known nowadays for the three monkeys. Many Koshin sites also have these strange looking dolls called Sarubobo in some places.

Many Koshin sites are now classed as Shinto shrines, and some, like here, as Buddhist temples. The honzon here is a Fudo Myoo.

My route now took me along the main road of Noma. There was some nice traditional architecture, though my favorite of the day was the old school house that was made famous in a movie.


The sun dipped below the hills as I passed through the biggest soy sauce factory of the island. 

It was almost dark when I reached  Saisho-an, number 10. It was created in the separation of shrines and temples, and the honzon, an Aizen Myoo was originally in the shrine next door.

It was completely dark by the time I got back to my room, and a little while later there was a knock at my door. It was the old priest I had met at Kannonji, and then later at Dounzan. He had brought me a gift, a delightful print of Fudo Myo!! A truly excellent day to start the pilgrimage with, that bodes well for the coming days.

Wild Japan

Monday, February 28, 2022

Kuncho Sake Brewery & Museum

Sake 酒

Just about every town in Japan, large or small, has at least one sake brewery.

In Hita the biggest, Kuncho Shuzo Sake Brewery is located on the edge of Mamedamachi, the historic preservation district of the old town.

To get to the brewery's museum you walk through the front part of the brewery past the huge pots that cook the rice for the sake.

The "museum" is actually just the huge attic space filled with old barrels and assorted , mostly wooden, tools and equipment, some of which is labeled

It's quite a big space, filled with stuff, and would eprhaps be interesting to some.

They have a big shop with a wide range of sakes and masu cups available. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of sake, nor of most alcohol, so I can't comment on its quality.

Wild Japan

Friday, February 25, 2022

ACROS Fukuoka


ACROS stands for Asian CRossroads Over the Sea, and houses an auditorium, conference centre, and numerous offices.

It was opened in 1994 and was designed by Argentinian architect Emilio Ambasz.

It was built on part of Tenjin Central Park, the last remaining green space in the area, and so it was designed to include a green roof that is an etension of the remaining park

The roof is a series of 15 terraces that rise 60 meters , and are planted with about 4,000 plants of about 76 different species.

This rood garden is open to the public during daylight hours. The interior of the building is a cavernous space rising up to the semi-circular atrium.

Wild Japan

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Kumenan Kamo Shrine


Kamo Shrine is the collective name given to the pair of famous shrines in the north of Kyoto, Kamigamo, and Shimogamo.

This branch shrine in Kumenan Town in the north of Okayama was established in 835 by a notable who moved here from Kyoto.

The shrine enshrines ancestral deities of the Kamo family, one male and one female, but the chigi on the roof indicates that the male is given predominance.

I spent the night here in late July, on the night between my 3rd and 4th days walking the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage. I would have liked to sleep but the mosquitoes would not allow it.

Tanjoji Temple, my reason for being here, was just a across the valley. The entry to the shrine had a chinowa. A couple of days previously I had been to a shrine in Okayama City that also had one, and in that post you can find a little more detail of what a chinowa is.

Another Japan