Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Climb to Senganji Temple


Kawamoto is the next town up the Gonokawa River from my village.

Halfway up the steep hillside across the river from downtown Kawamoto is a small temple, Senganji.

The temple becomes really visible in late Autumn when the trees around it turn orange, yellow, and red.

I have actually only made it up to the temple one time, after walking down from Iwami Ginzan on day 5 of my walk along the Iwami Kannon pilgrimage.

Senganji is temple number 9 on that pilgrimage.

There is no vehicular access to Senganji, only a footpath with more than 200 steps, which is, I think, a large reason the temple has been uninhabited for a long time.

There are numerous statues along the path, inlcuding a lot of Jizo but also some Kannon.

When I visited in the late afternoon in May, the shafts of sunlight illumnated many of the statues quite dramatically.

Tomorrow I will post photos from inside the temple and include what history I have been able to find out.

According to a recent photo I saw, the structure housing this collection of statues has  now completely collapsed.

The temple occuppies a narrow ledge in the steep hillside.

The previous post in this series on the Iwami kannon pilgrimage was Ido Shrine in Omori.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Tozenji Temple 74 on the Kyushu pilgrimage


Tozenji Temple, number 74 on the Shingon Kyushu pilgrimage, is in Nakazatacho, a rural community north of Sasebo in Nagasaki.

On the previous day's walk I visited temple 66, also called Tozenji, to the east of Sasebo.

The temple was established here in 968, but its origin can be said to lie almost three hundred years earlier in tye very early 8th century when the famous mink Gyoki visited the area and carved a statue of yakushi Nyorai.

That statue was enshrined on top of the mountain in what is now the temples Okunoin and the statue is the honzon of the temple.

I visited very early in the morning and there was no one about so I didn't go inside and see the statue.

The temple grounds are dominated by a huge Camphor tree.

Thought to be 600 years old, this ancient tree has a trunk circumference of 8 meters and is twenty meters high.

The previous post was about the first temple I visited on this, the 67th day of my walk, Korin-in.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Kochi Daijingu & Yosakoi Inari Shrine


Kochi Daijingu is located just outside the main gate of Kochi Castle, and within the grounds is Yosakoi Inari Shrine.

Kochi Daijingu, with its unique golden torii, is a branch of Ise Shrine, but I can not find much info on it beyond that it was established in 1873. The Inari shrine is far more popular and has more info.

There were a lot of chickens wandering around the grounds, something I have seen before at shrines, but not so very often....

The Inari Shrine was renamed Yosakoi Inari quite recently in honor of Kochi being the origin of the Yosakoi dance.

The shrine originally was in the property of the Yamauchi Clan, and was moved to Kochi when the clan sold their property in early Meiji. I believe it was originally in Kyoto as a few of the enshrined kami are specifically local Kyoto kami.

As a branch of Ise, the Daijingu enshrines Amaterasu. The chicken has been considered the messenger of Amaterasu in the same way that the fox is considered the messenger of Inari.

Consequently, there are no komainu at the shrine, just a pair of recently added chicken statues and the usual foxes.

The previous post from day 16 of my walk along the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage was Kochi Castle.

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.