Thursday, September 29, 2022

Guardians of Kitano Tenmangu in Kurume


On the north bank of the Chikugo River in Fukuoka, and now a part of Kurume City, is a large Tenmangu Shrine established in the 11th Century. A branch of the original Kitano Tenmangu shrine established in Kyoto, the area around the shrine is now called Kitano.

Tomorrow I  will post photos of the shrine with inf0 about it, but for now a sequence of pics on the gurdian statues there, starting with komainu, of which there were multiple pairs of stone ones lining the approach.

Inside the gatehouse were also some of the older style of komainu carved in wood. Unusually they were painted red

Also inside the gatehouse was a pair of Zuijin, the shinto version of Buddhist Nio guardians. Though some date back to the Edo period, many are post Meiji era and replaced Nio.

Zuijin was the original term for imperial guards, and they are most often shown holding bows and arrows.

Flanking the main hall are a pair of stylized bird statues, one gold, the other silver. Sometimes you find statues of doves at Hachiman shrines as the dove is messenger of this god of war in Japan but I really dont know what these are or what they represent.

Many shrines have a wooden statue of a white horse, Based on a very old tradition of donating a horse to a shrine to pray for rain, this is also the origin of the ema votive plaques.....

Unusual, and I'm not sure of their significace, but there were also this trio of red horses...... more on the shrine tomorrow....

Japan Shop

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Joruriji Temple 46 Shikoku pilgrimage


Joruriji is located on the southern edge of Matsuyama City, and is the first of 8 temples around Matsuyama that are on the Shikoku pilgrimage.

The previous two temples, Iwayaji, and Daihoji, are both high in the mountains so it is quite a contrast to drop down into flatter terrain. Matsuyama is also the largest city along the route since Kochi.

According to the legend the temple was founded by the famous monk Gyoki which would make it the early 8th century. I believe a total of 37 of the 88 temples claim Gyoki as their founder.

As with the others, it is said Kukai came to the site about a century later and rebuilt or re-established the temple.

There are several smaller shrines, including this one to Benten.

I visited in the first week of January so the new year offerings were still on the altars.

The grounds are wooded and gardened, with a trio of thousand-year-old Juniper trees being noteworthy.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

To the First Bend in the River

First Bend in the River

After leaving Gotsu Honmachi I pass by the remains of the former Honmachi train station on the now defunct rail line that followed the river upstream to Hiroshima. It was just a narrow concrete platform with a crude shelter, and now the vegetation has almost completely enveloped it.

A little further and I come to the first of several concreted slopes, the consequence of landslides. Twice in the past decade the train line was closed down because of a landslide in roughly this spot. Each time it took more than a year to get it open again. Obviously, no-one of importance uses the train line otherwise it would have been fixed sharpish methinks.

This side of the river is the least inhabited, with the main road running along the opposite bank for most of the way upriver.

It is my intention to stay on this bank all the way to the source of the river and then come back downstream on the other bank.

I have walked much of the river before, and I am hoping to see what, if any, difference the closing of the railway has had, and also what changes the rapid depopulation of the area has caused.

All About Japan

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Gesshoji Temple Matsudaira Tombs

Gesshoji Temple Matsudaira Tombs

Gesshoji Temple lies to the west of Matsue Castle and was used by the ruling Matsudaira clan as their funerary temple where tombs of succeeding daimyo were built

Consequently, the grounds are rather spacious, and not that well visited. 

The tomb of each daimyo has its own gate and there are plenty of stone lanterns given by vassals.

The gardens have a lot of hydrangeas, so in June and July it sees more visitors.

There are also Irises, cherry blossoms, and of course autumn foliage. There is a treasure hall with tea utensils and other artifacts from the clan, and a fine garden which I will cover in a later post.

Some of the gates to the tombs have some nice carvings, one in particular, the tomb of the 6th lord,  has a fine pair of carvings.

Thanks to Lafcadio Hearn, who lived nearby for less than a year, the most famous thing in the grounds is the giant stone turtle. He told how the turtle would wander around the area at night so the local residents placed the huge slab of stone on its back to prevent it....

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Myooin Temple 2 Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage

Japan Travel

Myooin is the second temple on the Shikoku 36 temple Fudo Myo pilgrimage and I reached it at the end of my second day of walking.

The first temple had been Taisanji, and for these first 2 days I had been following almost the same route as the famous 88 temple pilgrimage, however after visiting Horinji my route carried on up the Yoshino River and several kind people stopped their cars and told me I was going the wrong way..... which of course i was not.

Myoonji is not a particularly impressive temple though it is said to have been founded in the mid 9th century. Later it was patronized by the Hosokawa clan and prospered. In the great Yoshino River flood of 1544 the temple was completely destroyed and its statues were found downstream.

It was rebuilt in 1618 and was responsible for a dozen sub-temples in the area. It is said the daimyo would sometimes stay here on hunting trips. The honzon is known as Nezumi Fudo, "mouse fudo" as the amulet is said to keep mice from damaging crops. The main hall was rebuilt in 1989 at the founding of the Shikoku Fudo pilgrimage.

One of 6he reasons behind the number 36 associated with Fudo is that he is said to have 36 doji, young children who served as his attendant and acolytes. With the founding of the pilgrimage each temple received a statue of a different doji.

This is the one at Myoonji,  Seitaka Doji, which is one of the pair of doji that are commonly seen in a triad with Fudo.

I visited in mid-December, and the fallen leaves on the bushes were striking....

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Fukutomi Residence in Izushi part 2

Fukutomi Residence in Izushi

This is a continuation of yesterday's post on the interiors of the former Fukutomi residence in Izushi that is open to the public as the Izushi History Museum.

Located in the preservation district of this old castle town, its not directly in the main tourist street so actually gets few visitors.

I don't often do multiple posts on a single site, but I was really taken by this place and took a lot of photos.

There was lots of traditional interiors with plenty of artwork including hanging scrolls and folding screens.

There is a largish garden in the middle of the buildings, and several small ones viewable from some of the tatami rooms.

Several of the storehouses at the rear of the property are the museum part with lots of samurai armor, weapons, etc. I found it much more appealing than the "Samurai House" near the centre of town.

If you are interested more in Izushi then I suggest the castle, the old town, the shopfronts etc. and I still have a bunch more posts to come....

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Fukutomi Residence in Izushi part 1


The Fukutomi were a wealthy merchant family in the castle town of Izushi who made their money from silk.

Izushi is a small town in northern Hyogo that is unfortunate, in my humble opinion, to be saddled with the nickname "Little Kyoto".

The town has a preservation district of historic buildings and the former Fukutomi residence is one of them.

The former residence is open to the public as a history museum. I have posted on the Shiryokan Izushi History Museum before, but it is deserving of more exposure.

It is a few minute's walk away from the main tourist area, and consequently gets significantly fewer visitors, which is a real shame.

It is a collection of linked buildings around a courtyard garden and was built in the late 19th century using the highest quality traditional styles.

There is a wide range features that could be described as interior design......

More tomorrow......