Thursday, September 15, 2022

Yunotsu Harbour

Yunotsu Japan Travel

Early morning on Oct 15th 2019 and I start the third day of my walk along the Japan Sea Coast exploring as many of the nooks and crannies as I can.

Yunotsu is one of the sites included in the Iwami Ginzan World Heritage Site, and the old street of traditional hot spring guest houses and public baths is also a preservation district, but today I bypass that part of town and stick to the waters edge.

The port is now mostly a fishing port although there is a section where tetrapods are produced.

During the Edo and early Meiji periods it was a harbour used by the Kitamaebune ships on the major trade route that connected Osaka with Hokkaido.

Carved into the cliff is a small Buddhist shrine......

There are several side-inlets to the harbour filled with smaller fishing boats. Twenty years ago when we first came to the area one inlet had the remains of a large, modern boatbuilding factory, but it has long since gone.....

From one inlet a small tunnel leads through to Okidomari another site of World Heritage and one of the original Mori-controlled ports that served the silver mines..... I have already done a post....

Monday, September 12, 2022

Kichijoji, Tokoin, Jishoin, & Sanboin


Kichijoji, Tokoin, Jishoin, and Sanboin, are a cluster of small temples/chapels along a narrow mountain lane above Sasaguri near Fukuoka.

I stopped in after carrying on up the road after visiting Raionji, Hagio yakushido, and Hagio Amidado, a small cluster of three temples in the mountain hamlet of Hagio. All three were temples on the Sasaguri 88 temple pilgrimage.

This new cluster of 4 temples was not officially part of the pilgrimage.

5 and a half hours into walking the pilgrimage and we had already visited 15 temples that were officially part of the 88 and had seen hundreds and hundreds of amazing statues.....

These three temples were no different, each with many statues, a lot being Fudo Myo.

I would hesitate a guess that this small pilgrimage of only 50 kilometers meandering around the mountains near Sasaguri has the highest density of Fudo Myo statues of anywhere in the world....

Of all the pilgrimages I have walked in Japan, my guess is that the Sasaguri one is the one that has the highest percentage of pilgrims walking rather than driving....

Even so, I'm not sure how many stop in at these non-official temples.....

Japan Goods

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Kozugu Shrine

Japan Shrines

Osaka is rarely seen as a major tourist destination, especially compare with it nearby neighbour, Kyoto, but actually, Osaka is a more historic city except that it was completely flattened during WWII and the subsequent postwar development, whereas Kyoto escaped the war completely.

Kozu Shrine was originally founded just a few years after Kyoto was established as the new capital. Emperor Seiwa established the shrine at what was believed to be the site of the palace lived in by Emperor Nintoku who is the kami enshrined here.

There is almost no verifiable history about Nintoku although the largest keyhole tomb in all of Japan is said to be his. He was a son of Ojin who was apparently a new lineage of "emperors" around the 4th or 5th centuries and who were based in what is now the Osaka area.

The shrine was moved to its current location from its original by Hideyoshi in the late 16th century when he was building Osaka Castle.

There is a large Inari shrine within the grounds that is very popular, and the shrine is known for its rakugo performances.

It is located just across from the small Houonin Temple that I visited on my second day of walking along the Kinki Fudo Myo pilgrimage.

The Shitennoji and Tennoji areas of Osaka that I had been walking through have a surprisingly large number of historic shrines and temples, though they are all modern rebuildings.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Chikatsuyu to Takahara on the Nakahechi

Chikatsuyu to Takahara

The Kumano Kodo are hundreds of kilometers of routes that converge on the sacred sites of three shrine-temple complexes in southern Wakayama. The Nakahechi is certainly the most traveled of these routes nowadays, and it seems like this section is the busiest of them all with many visitors who just do a one day or one night "experience".

This was day 4 of my walk along the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage that for the first week also follows the same route as the Kumano Kodo, but I was walking against the flow as most people are walking west to east

From Chikatsuyu, where the trail drops down and a fairly large settlement with many guesthouses provide a convenient stopping point, the trail once again heads up into the mountains and over several passes.

Most of the route is just mountain trail and passes several oji, wayside shrines.

The bulk of the forest is sugi, Japanese Cedar, planted fairly recently, though there are glimpses of remains of old growth. Like so much of the mountainsides of Japan that have been clearcut and monocultured with tree farms, landslides are now common....

By late morning I had reached Takahara, a mountaintop settlement that has benefited by the surge of tourism since the Kumano Kodo was made a World Heritage site.  I will cover Takahara in the next post in the series. previous posts can be found here.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Hotogekataki Cave Temple on Shodoshima


Located at the base of a towering cliff in the lower Kankakei Gorge on Shodoshima Island, Hotogekataki is temple number 20 on the Shodoshima 88 temple pilgrimage, a smaller copy of the famous, and nearby, Shikoku pilgrimage.

The temizuya where visitors purify their mouths and hands is not a typical basin, but rather a spring-fed pool of milky-blue water watched over by a statue of Fudo Myoo.

However the usual dragon was also there.

There is a small, concrete, Daishi Hall and a bell tower, also concrete, but the main hall of the temple is a cave, something that is not unusual on this pilgrimage.

The entrance to the cave is quite small and flanked by small atars and statues. The interior is surprisingly roomy with a natural central pillar.

The honzon of the temple is a yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. Most surprising was a woodstove with a chimney through the solid rock. An old lady was on duty and she gave me some oranges as osettai, gifts or alms for pilgrims.

This was my second day walking this pilgrimage and the previous temple was high above, Kiyotakisan, was another cave temple, and actually the highest temple on the route.

Hotogekataki has breat views out across the lower part of the Kankakei Gorge, one of the three top gorges in Japan. Though it was Christmas day there was still plenty of autumn color around as Shodoshima has a very mild climate.

From here I once again start to climb, the next temple, also a cave temple is about halfway up the gorge....

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Water Lilies at Shurakuen Garden

Japan Gardens

A very simple post today, just some snaps of water lilies at the Shurakuen garden in Tsuyama, Okayama.

Nympharaceae, commonly known as water lily, consists of about 70 different species of plants that gow in temperate and tropical areas around the world.

They have a variety of different colors, though the species growing in Shurakuen has white flowers that were blooming when I visited in early July.

The main feature of Shurakuen is a very large body of water, much of which is covered in water lilies which tends to make a very green garden in summer.

I believe the floating greenery does die back in the autumn and winter and that would make the pond more reflective. I hope to find out in a couple of months on my next visit there in November


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Shurakuen Garden Tsuyama


Shurakuen is a large, Edo-Period, stroll-type garden built by a daimyo in the former castle town of Tsuyama in the mountains of Okayama.

The garden, as well as Tsuyama itself, is not so well known and is  little off the main tourist routes, but is well worth a visit, especially as the entrance is free.

The garden was built in the mid 17th century under the orders of Nagatsugu Mori, who brought in a gardener from Kyoto to design it. It is said to be modeled on the garden at the Imperial palace in Kyoto.

The Matsudaira clan who took over the domain used it to entertain vassals and visiting dignitaries, and was probably used as a palace by retired daimyo.

The garden is dominated by a very large pond  that by virtue of its shape and its islands seems like three separate areas.

A large part of the surface of the pond is covered with water lilies which in the summer give the garden wide expanses of green.

Reproductions of some of the buildings that stood here have been built including a fine two-storied, thatched building.

There are cherry blossoms in the spring, the water lilies are in bloom in the summer, and being at some elevation a fair bit of snow in the winter, but it is said to be best in the autumn colors.

All these shots were taken in the summer.....