Monday, April 17, 2017

Asami Shrine Revisited

A pair of huge trees flank the entrance to Asami Shrine in Beppu. I posted on the shrine many years ago.

It is the main shrine for the town and enshrines Hachiman.

I was heading out of town to continue my walk around Kyushu.

It was early in the morning on a sunny day..... the golden hour for photographers....

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple 33 Sekkeiji

Sekkeiji, the 33rd temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage was fairly unimpressive. That may be due to it being the end of a long day when I finally reached it.

Though reputedly founded by Kukai, it became a Zen temple and not long after was sponsored by Chosokabe, the warlord who burned down so many of the temples on Shikoku. It became his family temple and was where he was buried.

Perhaps fittingly, it was burned down in the early Meiji period in the anti-Buddhist wave that swept many parts of the country. It was eventually rebuilt at its current site, next door to its original site which is now a shrine.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Day 11 Beppu to Oita

This is somewhat how I felt on the morning of my eleventh day of walking around Kyushu. After 2 days of miserable, grey, drizzly weather, the sky was clear and blue. The statue is of Kumahachi Aburaya, the entrepeneur who put Beppu on the tourist map and was to a large extent responsible for modern Japanese tourism....

Heading south out of Beppu I took lots of shots of the colorful manhole covers of the town before stopping in at the big Hachiman Shrine with its pair of giant cedars.

After heading down the coast I cut inland to get to Yusuhara Hachimangu, the major shrine of the area and home to a set of fantatsic carvings adorning the main gate,... from there downhill all the way into the outskirts of Oita City.

At Funai castle ruins I caught this married couple having their wedding photos taken among the cherry blossoms. Nearby was an older building designed by Oita native Arata Isozaki that now contains a small museum of his models and drawing which was a real delight.

I then headed to the hills to te south of the city center where there were some older temples, shrines, & Buddhist carvings.....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 25 Kongochoji

This was a very difficult place to find. Located in the middle of a dense grid of narrow streets, none of which were named. It didnt help that it was tiny and not really any different from its neighboring houses.

The giant lantern in the yard was the clue that finally helped. There was no-one home and no signboard.

Apparently it is also on the Beppu Saigoku 33 Kannon pilgrimage. Like Beppu itself it was very unmemorable.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tamatsukuri Fertility Shrine

One of the things I am on the lookout for while I wander the back roads of rural Japan are fertility shrines. Many of them, like this one in Tamatsukuri, Izumo, are not signed, not on maps, and not associated with priests.

The Izumo area has quite a lot of them, though of course tourists don't visit them like they do a couple of the famous ones up in the big cities.

This one had quite a few small, hand-carved Phallii, as well as a few stones representing the female......

This large one was enclosed in a small structure and seems to be the main object. There was also an altar put up by a gentleman in celebration of reaching 100 years of age.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sho'okuji Temple, Hiji, Oita

Sho'okuji is a large Soto Zen temple in the castle town of Hiji on Beppu bay in Oita. It isnt one of the Kyushu Pilgrimage temples ( which are all Shingon) but I wanted to stop by to see the Sesshu garden there. During the Edo Period it was the family temple of the Kinoshita Clan who ruled the domain.

The Manyu garden has a massive pond, and it is said that Sesshu, who lived nearby for many years, possibly had a hand in its design.

In front of the main hall is the biggest Cycad in all of Japan. Said to be 650 years old it was originally in the garden of Otomo Sorin, the famous Christian Daimyo who lived further south in Funai and Usuki. The palm trees trunk measures 4 and a half meters around.

Behind the main buildings is what I came to see, a garden attributed to Sesshu, my favorite garden designer. It was a grey, rainy day which didnt help. Sesshu lived in the area to avoid the Onin War. In the temples treasure house are some paintings attributed to him.

This rather nice Senju Kannon was in another of the temples halls.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fudo Myo of Shikoku part 13

I havent posted much recently because I am on the road, walking around Shikoku on the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, and have limited time on the internet.

So I will finish off the posts on Fudo Myo statues I encountered when I walked the more famous Shikoku 88 temple Pilgrimage 6 years ago.

The first photo is from the treasure hall/museum at temple 84 Yashimaji. The other photos are from the last 2 temples on the pilgrimage.....

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fudo MyoO of Shikoku part 12

Coming towards the end of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage known commonly as Ohenro and Fudo Myo continues to make appearances. The first photos is at temple number 80, one of four Kokubunji temples along the route, this one being Sanuki Kokubunji.

This small figure is at temple 81, Shiromineji, not too far away.

This rather colorful little grouping was at the base of  the Yashima Plateau, near the start of the footpath leading up to temple 84, Yashimaji.

Further up the trail, another small one.

Finally, a larger one at the temple itself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Templ 24 Rengeji

Rengeji, which means Lotus Temple, is number 24 on the Shingon Kyushu Pilgrimage and is located in the little coastal town of Hiji on the northern part of Beppu Bay.

The pilgrimage guidebook has little to say about the temple. Right next door was a large shrine with similar architecture to the temple so that suggest they were both the same place previously. Both had some nice onigawara.

There was no-one around to talk to and it was a grey day so I pressed on....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Some Art at Kanaya Tenmangu

Kanaya Tenmangu shrine is located just outside what used to be the gate into Hagi castle and was where the the Daimyo and official travellers would stop and pray for a safe journey, consequently it received many paintings and such as offerings.

The paintings of horses may well be an earlier version of "ema", votive plaques which were paintings of horses as a substitute for giving a real horse. The coiled snake painting is probably connected to Benzaiten.

One of the things I look for when visiting small, local shrines is the artwork.

The final photo is one of the Zuijin at the shrine. A signboard showed picture of the Buddhist Nio guardians that guarded the shrine until the Meiji Period.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Day 10 Kitsuki to Beppu

For me, one of the great joys of walking these pilgrimages is not so much the temples themselves, rather the unexpected thibgs seen and experienced in the spaces between the temples. Day 10 was a day that alternated between light rain and heavily overcast.

My route was south, overland from Kitsuki till I hit Beppu Bay at the old castle town of Hiji. Tgere was a pilgrimage temple here, but more interesting was a much larger temple that had a garden designed by the great Zen artist-monk Sesshu, who lived for a while in the area.

The temple is also home to what is classed as the biggest Cycad in Japan. A very ancient species of palm, I believe its related to the sago palm. The Sesshu garden was not in great condition.

From here it was a long walk around the curve of the bay, stopping at any shrines I passed, until I reached the famous host spring "resort" of Beppu, which to me looked more like some sort of dystopian industrial hellhole with all the charm of an Albanian oil refinery, though I suspect in the sunshine it wouldnt look so bad.

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