Saturday, March 4, 2023

Lafcadio Hearn's House & Gardens

Lafcadio Hearn's House & Gardens

Lafcadio Hearn was one of the first foreign writers in Japan whose books are still very popular today. Kwaidan, his book of ghost stories, and Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan are two titles that are perhaps the most well-known, and the latter is what I have shamelessly cribbed for the title of my own blog.

He spent about a year living in the castle town of Matsue in Shimane where he gathered much of the material for "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" and where he married and lived with his wife, the daughter of a local samurai.

The house where he lived for six months is located on Shiomi Nawate, a street of former samurai homes on the north bank of the castle moat.

Hearn, who took Japanese citizenship and the name Koizumi Yakumo, was particularly fond of the gardens in his samurai home.

It is not a very large house, though there is a little furniture and some artwork around. There is almost no infomation, for that you need to go next door.

Immediately adjacent to the former residence is the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum which has a lot of permanent displays on Lafcadio Hearn and his life and works as well as changing temporary exhibitions on related subjects. On a visit, you may meet the curator, a great-grandson of Hearn.

The previous post in the series is the Gesshoji Temple garden.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Nagaoka Family 18th Century Farmhouse


The former Nagaoka Family farmhouse is located in Mima on the north bank of the Yoshino River in Tokushima on Shikoku.

It was built in the early decades of the 18th century a few kilometers to the north of its current site but was dismantled and rebuilt here in 1979.

The first noteworthy thing is that the walls are made of earth/clay, which is standard, but the exteriors are not covered by boards or bark as is normal. Apparently, this is because the area gets relatively little rainfall so the walls don't need the protection. 

In the interiors, the floors are heavy, polished floorboards, not tatami. They did have some tatami but they were brought out and used temporarily, not laid permanently. This is how they were used further back in history.

There are plenty of tools and furniture scattered around the interiors, and the roof structure is much simpler and lighter than later architecture that used tile roofs.

Entry is free and is worth a visit if you are in the Mima area.....

I visited on my third day walking the Shikoku Fudo Myo pilgrimage. The previous post in the series is Saimyoji Temple which is a few minutes away. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Sukyoji Temple Gardens

Sukyoji Temple Gardens

Sukyoji is a Rinzai Zen temple located in Izushi castle town and was founded in 1392.

The temple is often called Takuan Dera after the famous monk Takuan Soho who was born in Izushi in 1573. Later in life, he returned to Isushi and stayed at Sukyoji for 8 years. He was very influential in bringing a zen influence to various schools of swordsmanship.

He is credited with designing several of the gardens at Sukyoji, but is more famous for being the creator of the daikon pickles, takuan, named after him.

The temple has a Rock Garden, Crane & Turtle Garden, Moss Garden, and  Heart Pond Garden.

It is said that Takuan designed the Crane Turtle garden and the Shinjioike Garden ( pond in the shape of the Chinese character for heart)

In the photo above the building behind the Shinjioike is the Toenken, the hermitage where Takuan stayed for 8 years and where he is said to have created his namesake pickle.

The Crane & Turtle Garden by Takuan Soho is a National Important Cultutral property.

The rock garden viewed from inside the temple.

Later I will post more on the temple and takuan Soho.

These last three images were taken on my second visit, in the winter.

The previous post in the series is the Eirakukan Kabuki Theatre.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hiso Natural Arch

Hiso Natural Arch

Hiso Domon translates literally as the "cave gate of Hiso", but in English we would call it a natural arch.

It was the kind of sight I was hoping to discover on my walk of exploration along the coastline of the Japan Sea, and this was my third day.

The tiny settlement of Hiso is now considered part of Yunotsu and is the first settlement reached after taking the narrow coast road out of the back of Yunotu and Okidomari, the World Heritage silver mine port.

The road to Hiso passes a small Omoto Shrine that has no buildings at all....

And a small, roadside, Buddhist altar......

Hiso itself is very small, although a largish house has been renovated and modernized and is available as an upmarket guesthouse.

There is a small beach and a very small harbour protected by small stone barrier walls with a handful of small boats pulled up onto the beach. Surprisingly there are  no concrete structures in the harbour

The previous post in the series is Kushijima.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Fudo Myo at Kannonji Temple


Waraji, traditional straw sandals, are left as offerings to s statue of Fudo Myoo at Kanniji Temple on the Sasaguri pilgrimage in Fukuoka. They are left as prayers for health feet and for safety on journeys.

Kurikara, the sword held by Fudo Myoo, is often represented with a dragon wrapped around it.

The Fudo Myo statues found at Kannonji were all quite small, and carved, quite crudely, in stone.

The previous post in the series is Nomiyama Kannonji Temple.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Nomiyama Kannonji Temple 16 Sasaguri Pilgrimage


Nomiyama Kannonji is one of the biggest and also one of the highest of the 88 temples on the Sasaguri pilgrimage in Fukuoka. The temples are scattered in the mountains on either side of the valley through which runs the main road, Route 201, and the JR Fukuhokuyutaka Line.

The biggest temple is probably Nanzoin, home of the largest reclining Buddha, and the highest temple is the okunoin on top of Mount Wakasugi. Nomiyama Kannoji is at about 450 meters above sea level, but is the temple furthest away from the bottom of the valley.

It has several sub-temples and is served by a massive car park, so obviously many people venture up here with the temple website claiming about a million visitors a year.

The honzon is, not surprisingly considering the temple name, a Senju Kannon, a "thousand-armed" Kannon. It is hidden from view except for one day a year, on October 3rd, one of three major festivals held every year. photo number 2 above is a Senju Kannon in the Hundred Kannon Hall.

There is also an Amida Hall, pictured above.

There are several shrines within the grounds, an Inari, pictured above, and a Tenjin and an Awashima.

As well as within the different halls, there are numerous statues of many different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas scattered around the grounds. In fact, one of the main features of the pilgrimage is the sheer number of statues on display. We arrived here in the early afternoon of our first day walking the pilgrimage, and we had seen hundreds and hundreds of very diverse statues.

The previous post in the series is Mizuko Temple Monju-in. Next, I will post pics of the Fudo Myo statues from Kannonji.