Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Obama Onsen Snapshots


Obama Onsen is a small. coastal hot spring resort on the West coast of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki, Kyushu.

I stayed in a small. family-run ryokan with a recently renovated outdoor bath but the town also has plenty of larger hotel-style accomodation.

Known for its sunset views, it main claim to fame is having the hottest and most active hots springs in the country.

You can't go far on the Japanese coast without finding one of the spots where the ubiquitous tetrapods are made.

Typical of many seaside parks, Obama had a large, sculptural-type monument near the longest foot bath in Japan.

There was a very small fishing harbour with huge concrete walls and breakwaters

Shunyokan is a classic onsen hotel from the early Show period about 100 years ago//

Looking north, my route the next day, up Tachibana Bay

The previous post was on Obama Shrine.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Anrakuji Temple Mima


Anrakuji is the oldest temple of the Jodo Shinshu, True Pure Land Sect, in all of Shikoku and is located in the administrative city of Mima along the Yoshino River in Tokushima.

Known locally as Akamonji, literally "red gate temple", because of the impressive gate which was built in 1756. It and several other buildings in the temple are registered as Important Cultural Properties.

It was founded around 1256 when an existing Tendai Temple, Shinnyoji, which had been in existence since the Heian Period was converted to Jodo Shinshu and renamed.

Anrakuji is located in a Teramachi- a cluster of large temples- though most teramachi were Edo-period creations whereby new castle towns built all their temples in one district, this one is located in a rural area and has been an area of temples since ancient times.

In fact the ruins  of one of the first temples ever built in Shikoku are located nearby, adjacent to some late burial mounds indicating that this was an important political center in ancient times.

The previous post in this series on my third day walking the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage was Mima Snaphots.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Obama Shrine & its Komainu


Obama Shrine is the main shrine of the small, coastal hot spring resort of Obama on Tachibana Bay in Nagasaki.

The current shrine building was constructed in 1995 on the site of the former Kengara Shrine when Obama Shrine and Kengara Shrine were combined.

It seems the original Kengara Shrine was built in 1679 at the same time the nearby Obama Shrine was rebuilt. At that time both shrines had different names.

The kami enshrined here are Okuninushi, and Sukunahikona who is often portrayed as a sidekick of Okuninushi. Sukunahikona is sometimes considered a god of hot springs due to an episode in the ancient myths set at Dogo onsen in Shikoku. The other kami enshrined is Takemikazuchi.

The main building has a ceiling painting of a dragon which was transferred from the older shrine, but, for me, the most interesting thing at the shrine was the two pairs of small komainu that I suspect came from the two older shrines.

The previous post was on the longest hot spring foot bath in Japan which is nearby.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Onsenji Temple


Onsenji is the guardian temple of Kinosaki Onsen in Toyooka, Hyogo, and is located halfway up Daishiyama Mountain overlooking the hot spring town.

According to the legend it was founded in 738 by Dochi Shonin who spent 1,000 days in ascetic practise before a spring arose. It was traditional for visitors to visit the temple before heading to the healing baths of Kinosaki.

There are some temple structures at the base of the mountain where the steps up to te main temple begin, and the temple also has its own stop of the ropeway that goes to the mountaintop where the okunoin of the temple ( photo 8) is adjacent to the ropeway station.

The main hall of the temple dates back to the late 14th century and is the oldest wooden building in the former province of Tajima.

The honzon is a "secret buddha" and is only shown to the public once every 33 years. It is a Thousand-Armed Kannon built from a single piece of wood said to be from the same tree as the honzon of the famous Hasedera Temple in Nara.

Set among some giant trees, the temple has a Tahoto, a Shingon-style pagoda, was rebuilt in 1767.

Though the honzon is not shown, the main hall does have some nice statuary and the settings and architecture of Onsenji are quite picturesque. I will cover the main gate and lower buildings in a later post. The previous post in this series on Toyooka was the Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hot Foot 105 the Longest Footbath in Japan


There is nothing more pleasing after a long day of walking than being able to take off your hiking boots and socks and soak your feet in hot water. Ashiyu, foot baths fed by hot springs, are a common feature found on the streets of hot spring resort towns and are usually free to use.

Upon arriving in the hot spring resort town of Obama on Tachibana Bay in Nagasaki after having walked over the mountains from Shimabara on the other side of the peninsula, was pleased to find an ashiyu on the waterfront.

It turns out that this was not just an ashiyu, but the longest ashiyu in Japan and also the hottest.

Hotto Futto 105 is 105 meters long, and 105 is the temperature of the water when it comes out of the ground. For many (most?) this is way too hot, but further down the temperature drops as the water cools.

The previous post was the Inori no Sato "park" just above the town.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Kotogahama Beach


After leaving the confines of Tomogaura there is a long stretch of nice beach that stretches about one and a half kilometrers.

Kotogahama Beach is actually one of the nicest beaches in Shimane, but because it is fairly remote with little in the way of parking spaces and the town of Maji has few accommodation options, it is not crowded even in the short summer season of Japanese beaches.

This was the third leg of my deep exploration walk along the coast in mid-October. Actually, there are much nicer photographs in a post I did on sunset at Kotogahama Beach.

Kotogahama Beach is famous for its "singing sand", that squeaks when you walk on it. Not far away is the Nima Sand Museum which was built to celebrate this sand.

From here I hopped on a train and headed home. The last two photos are from when I started the next leg of my walk a couple of weeks later.

The previous post was the Tomogaura Tomokan, a historical building.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Inori no Sato Religious Roadside Attraction


Coming down from Unzen Hot Springs towards Obama on the coast of Tachibana Bay, the road is steep and without any settlements until just above the town.

Inori no Sato is sometimes described as a park, sometimes as a roadside rest area, but it looks like some kind of religious roadside attraction with a wide range of statues and altars, and yet is not a temple or shrine.

It is sometimes referred to as Unzen Daibutsu Inori no Sato because of the Buddha statue seen in photo 2, which was made by the same sculptor who created the Ushiku Great Buddha in Ibaraki.

That was a standing figure 120 meters tall, whereas the statue here is a seated figure only 3 meters high including the base.

There are several statues of Kannon, photos 3 & 7, and several Fudo Myo statues, photos 6 & 14.

Under a gazebo in the middle of the park is an impressive statue of a Dragon grasping a golden sphere, photo 5, with a smaller version, photo 8. This is a common symbol across East Asia. The Secven Lucky Gods, shichifukujin, also make an appearance, photo 4.

Various figures from the world of Yokai make an appearance, including a Kappa Pond, photo 9, and a giant red Tengu mask, photo 10.

No overview of Japanese popular religion would be complete without an Inari Shrine, photo 11, a small collection of monkey statues probably related to the Koshin cult, photo 13, and a statue of Shotoku Taishi, photo 12.

There seems to be an emphasis on praying for good luck, success, and other "this worldly benefits", known as genze riyaku in Japanese.

Not shown in these photos is a miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage with 88 small statues, and a pair of "sexual" statues based on Dosojin.

There is no entry fee, though offertory boxes stand in front of all of the statues, and no sect or religion is being pushed. The whole thing was funded by a local businessman, Mr Takujima.

It seems he is the chairman of a successful construction company and Inori no Sato is his attempt to contribute to the well-being and perhaps revitalization of the local area.

The previous post was on the Unzen Hells.