Sunday, February 4, 2024

Korin-in Temple 72 on the Kyushu pilgrimage


Korin-in is, like the previous pilgrimage temple I visited the evening before, Daiichi-in, an urban temple mostly built in concrete.

It is also a relatively new temple, being founded in 1896, at a time when Sasebo was growing rapidly as a naval base.

The one wooden building is a Bishamon-do enshrining Bishamonten.

The honzon is an Amida. Also enshrined in the main hall is a Gyoran Kannon, a not-so-common form of Kannon, as well as the obligatory Kobo Daishi, Aizen Myo, Fudo Myo, and a Jizo.

Outside are a couple of Fudo statues including quite a large one.

I visited at the start of day 67 of my walk around the Kyushu pilgrimage. The previous post was my diary for day 66 which includes links to the three pilgrimage temples I visited that day.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Kakaji Betsugu Hachiman Shrine


Kakaji is a town on the north side of the Kunisaki peninsula, and the Hachiman Shrine is te main shrine of the town.

The approach to the shrine crosses a stone-arched bridge across the Takeda River.

Built in the mid 19th century, this type of bridge was rare in the area.

The shrine is set in a forest of pines, and its main feature is an impressive two-storey gate.

One of the komainu guarding the approach is unusual in that it is standing upon a turtle. I can't remember having seen that before.

The main gate has numerous relief carvings.

Many sources suggest the gate may have been built in the late Edo period, but the late 19th century is more likely.

The gate houses two Zuijin, Shinto guardians.

They are unusual in that they are carved out of stone, not wood. I have seen other stone zuijin in the Kunisaki area, but not elsewhere.

The shrine was established in the early 8th century, before the  Hachiman cult spread to the Kinki region with its connection to the founding of Todaiji.

It is one of 5 "betsugu" of Usa Hachimangu. Bestsugu is often translated as "branch", but the relationship is stronger and more direct than that. Maybe "annex" would be more accurate.

As a Hachiman shrine it is now considered to enshrine Ojin, his mother Jingu, and a consort.

The three Munakata "sisters" are also enshrined here.

I visited at the end of my second day walking around the Kunisaki area following the old Kunisaki pilgrimage trail while starting the Kyushu Fudo pilgrimage. The previous post was on my walk from Oreki Temle to Kakaji.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 66 Haiki to Sasebo

 A Walk Around Kyushu Day 6 Haiki to Sasebo Saturday March 8th 2014

For the last week or so of my pilgrimage there have actually been very few pilgrimage temples to visit. There have been days of walking between some of them, but the next few weeks that will see me completing the walk around Kyushu there are many pilgrimage temples so I will be visiting several a day. I will not be following the route suggested in the guidebook, which was written for people driving the route, but will zig zag somewhat in a route that makes more sense for someone walking. Like today I will be based in Sasebo and go out by train to each section of the walk. This has the advantage of me not having to carry a full pack, just a day pack.

Once I start out at Haiki the sun comes up and for a while, I walk along the bank of the Haiki Strait so have a wonderful view of golden reflections in the still water. I start to head East, inland up a river. I will be returning to Sasebo tonight but now I am heading directly away from it. The road climbs to a pass and then drops down to the Kawatana River valley and I head up it to the first temple of the day. Tozenji, number 66 on the pilgrimage, and like all the others belonging to the Shingon sect.


Where the main hall should be is just a flat area of gravel with strings stretched out marking where I presume the new hall will be built. A young priest comes out of a building and invites me inside for tea. Like all the priests I have met on this journey he expresses surprise at a foreigner walking the pilgrimage. I ask and receive permission to go through the fence and explore behind the temple. There is a narrow gully filled with mossy rocks on top of which stand small statues wearing red hats and bibs. The color combination of moss green with vermillion has come to be iconic for me. I say my farewell and he gives me some fruit and snacks to take with me.

I continue north towards Hasami town center then turn west and head towards Sasebo. I pass a lot of brick chimneys though most of them have derelict buildings underneath. Across the hills is Arita, famous for porcelain. Here in Hasami they make porcelain too, though it is not as famous. The chimneys belong to old potteries. I come to a busier main road and a few hundred meters along see a roadside diner, a Big Man burger joint. Sasebo Burgers are quite famous, an excellent article on them can be found here LINK so I stop for lunch, and I have to say it was an excellent meal, among the best burgers I have ever had in Japan.

Along the road at Mikawachi I join up with the railway and main road heading into Haiki and on to Sasebo. I head off the main road and meander up to the next temple, number71, Jyosen-ji. There is nothing outstanding here, though a path lined with 33 Kannon statues leads through manicured bushes. So back to the main road. It's now urban all the way in and other than a few shrines there is nothing much to report until in the southern part of downtown Sasebo I turn up through the entrance gate of Seigan-jitemple. It's not on the pilgrimage but seems to be the most interesting temple in Sasebo. Its a fairly long walk up into the wooded hillside, and turns out to be well worth the visit. The many buildings are situated next to a cliff which has numerous altars within overhangs, but the main thing is there are lots of statues. It's peaceful as the hum of the city does not reach in, and the diversity of statues keeps me occupied with taking photos.

Walking the last kilometer it is still sunny and so I decide to go on to the next pilgrimage temple today rather than tomorrow morning. It's less than a kilometer from my hotel and located on a hillside with a bit of a view over the city towards the port. All the buildings at Daichi-in, temple 104, are concrete, but there are some small plum trees in bloom, a massive paper lantern hanging over the steps to the main hall, and a couple of older wooden Nio so there is a little atmosphere. And that’s it for the day, I'm off to explore the nightlife and dining possibilities of Sasebo.

The diary for Day 65 can be found here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Sakurai Family Samurai Mansion


The Sakurai were a samurai family who controlled iron production in an area of Okuizumo in the Chugoku Mountains of Shimane.

Originally from what is now Hiroshima, the family moved here in 1644 from the Kabe district and so were known locally as Kabeya.

Just below the old manor is a modern museum called Kabeya Shuseikan displaying artifacts from the family history.

The main house was built in 1738. The main residence sometimes served as a honjin, a guesthouse for when the Daimyo was traveling in the area

The most notable feature of the manor is the garden, and that will get a full post next....

There were several other samurai families controlling iron production in the region, probably the most important iron-producing region in Japan.

Down the mountains, the Itohara Family Residence is another big samurai manor with a garden and also a museum devoted to tatara iron making.

Near to the Sakurai Residence is more modern version of a tatara forge, and in the town of Yokota is a big museum devoted to tatara and samurai swords

Monday, January 29, 2024

Shrines of Day 66


While walking around the countryside near Sasebo in Nagasaki on the 66th day of my walk along the Kyushu pilgrimage I stopped in at any shrines that I passed. At the start of the day I visited a largish Sumiyoshi shrine in Haiki, and a little later Hasami Shrine next to Tozenji Temple. All the other shrines I visited that day were quite small and no information boards.

These first two photos are of a small Kotohira Shrine. before the Meiji period, they were probably called Konpira. There were a few more Kotohora shrines in the area. Since Meiji the main kami has been identified as a variation of Okuninushi. The main Kotohira Shrine is on Shikoku and was a major pilgrimage destination in its own right and was known for offering protection to seafarers.

Just 100 meters away is Srayama Daijingu Shrine. The small hokora was established in 1487. Unusual was a horse and a komainu rather than 2 komainu.

Apparently, during a famine in 1732 the local people either started to make puppets or started to perform, puppet plays.

With its large vermillion torii, and building indistinguishable from a residence, Suwa Daimyojin was a little unusual.

Sasebo Suwa Shrine was its full name but there is absolutely zero information about it. Obviously a branch of the famous Suwa Shrine in Nagano that enshrines Takeminakata, the son of Okuninushi who was "exiled " to Nagano after being defeated by the envoy of Amaterasu, Takemikazuchi.

The final shrine was Uenomiya Shrine at the base of a hill that once had a small castle on top.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Art of Taisanji Temple


Like most of the temples on major pilgrimages, Taisanji, temple 52 on the Shikoku pilgrimage has plenty of art adorning the buildings and grounds.

The Nio Gate is about 600 meters from the temple grounds. Rebuilt in 1305,at  the same time as the main hall, it contains 2 striking Nio guardians.

At the next gate, at the entrance to the main temple complex, there are 4 statues of the Shitenno, the four heavenly kings.

It is not uncommon to find temple gates with the four shitenno

Inside the bell tower are paintings depicting Enma and the other judges of hell and scenes of the tortures and sufferings awaiting those going to hell...

Ema, votive plaques, are a religious practice common to both shrines and temples. There were a variety of different designs at Taisanji, but I was attracted to theFudo.....

traces of pigment can still be seen in this example of relief carving....

Not sure who this statue is, but to my untrained eye it seems to be almost an Indian-style statue...

Small statues of Daikoku, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, can often be found at the ends of roof ridges, or, like here, on a wall toed with kawara.

To me, this final statue aears to be done in Korean style.