Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum


Located in the capital, Naha, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum share the same massive structure and have a common lobby.


It opened in 2007 and was designed by Ishimoto Architetcural & Engineering, a company founded in 1927 by Kikuji Ishimoto, a contributor to the New Architectural Secession Movement.


It's made out of local limestone and is modelled on the forms of the gusuku, traditional Okinawan castles. In bright sunshine it appears almost white, but in other conditions looks quite drab.


Both museums are worth a visit if you are in Naha.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Inaba Shimo Yashiki


The Inaba were the feudal lords of the Usuki Domain in present-day Oita for most of the Edo Period. When the domains were abolished in the late 19th Century the famiy were made peers and moved to Tokyo


Shimo Yashiki means "lower samurai residence", bvut what it means in this case is "second home". In the first decade of the twentieth century this large residence wwas built for them to stay in whenever they visited Usuki.


Though built in modern times it is a traditional set of buildings and also has some nice gardens.


It is located not far from the castle ruins in downtown Usuki, and if you enjoy traditional japanese architecture it is worth a visit.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Kumanosha, Kunisaki


As I wander around Japan I notice that some areas seem to have a lot of shrines, and in some areas they are far less common. In the areas with a lot of shrines they usually seem to be well visited. There are plenty of signs of activity, though usually they are empty. In the other areas the shrines seem almost abandoned, with little decoration and grounds not well kept.


The Kunisaki Peninsula is one of the first types of area,... there are a lot of shrines. This one, a Kumanosha, was the fifth one I visited in this morning of my second day walking around the peninsula hunting the fall colors.


According to the signboard it was founded in 725 during the reign of Emperor Shomu. The ony kami listed is Izanami.


The sign also mentioned that in the early Taisho era it was registered as an official village shrine. I suspect this was in response to the governments program of the time that ended up closibg half the shrines in the country. Many more would have been closed but in some areas, like Kunisaki I suspect, the people resisted the governments program and found ways to keep more of their shrines open.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Usuki Gokoku Shrine


In the grounds of Usuki castle was another small shrine, founded in 1879 after the castle had been dismantled, the size of the trees and the pond and landscaping certainly suggests something was here before that.


It is a Gokoku Shrine, basically a local version of the infamous Yasukuni Shrine that enshrines the spirits of those who died fighting for the emperor.


In pre-modern times the castle was the focus of political power, and once the castles were dismantled upon the creation of the modern state of Japan many of the castle ruins had Gokoku shrines built within them to give these new state-worshiping shrines legitimacy.


I suspect that there was a shrine here before but I may be wrong


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ocho to Akashi Ferry


The small ferry that connects Ocho on Osakishimojima Island with Akashi on Osakikamijima Island is only a ten minute journey and the distance is probably less than 3 kilometers.


It passes right under the Okamura Bridge, the last of the seven bridges that connect the islands along the Tobishima cycle path.


I recently published a piece on that cycle route over at JapanVisitor.....  https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-city-guides/tobishimakaido


Like all the short ferry journeys throughout the Inland Sea area, the views are pleasant and ever changing......


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Seasons Greetings


Every year in December and January I take advantage of the cheap travel provided by the Seishun 18 train ticket and head off for a walk or two. This year was no different.


I took the early morning train from the local station and headed up the Gonokawa River towards Hiroshima. The line will be closing in March of 2018 so this was probably the last time I will be taking this particular train.


When the sun comes up an hour or two later the train is up around kasabuchi and the winter mists filling the valley begins to burn off, making for pretty scenes.


I'm not sure how many people ever read this blog, but to those of you who do, seasons greetings to you and yours.........


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Usuki Castle


Originally situated atop a small island that connected to the mainland by a sandbar at low tide, Usuki Castle is now in the middle of the town.


It was built by Otomo Sorin in 1562 who moved here from Funai Castle a little north. It's position was much better for defense and he left his son in charge of Funai castle.


The Shimazu attacked the fortress aided by a troop of Buddhist monks. Sorin had become  Christian and the Buddhist monks sacked and burned all Christian churches in retaliation for the destruction of their temples in the area. Sorin used a cannon against the Shimazu, possible the first time a cannon had been used to defend a castle in Japan., but was eventually defeated though first all the Christians in the castle had been evacuated by Portugese ships.


In 1873 the castle was decommissioned and almost all structures dismantled and a few years later the castle easily fell to Saigo Takamori. The main gate was rebuilt in 2001.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Kosanji Revisited


On the second day of my walk along the Shimanami Kaido I stopped in at Kosanji Temple to take some more photos. This first one is a reproduction of the Yomeimon gate at Toshugu Shrine in Nikko.


Like all the buildings at Kosanji that are based on famous historical structures, it is somewhat more colorful and embellished with more details than the original.


The remains of the temple founders mother lie beneath the five storied pagoda which is based on the pagoda at Muro-ji in Nara.


The fifteen meter tall statues of Kannon is based on a statue less than 2 meters tall in Horyu-ji, Nara.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Utono Inari Shrine


Utono Inari Shrine is within the grounds of Usuki Castle ruins.


The Utono Gate used to lead down to the sea but the island the castle was on is now completly landlocked by infill and development.


The shrine was built at the same time as the castle, 1562, by Otomo Sorin who moved his base here from Funai.


As such it was probably a private shrine and not open to the public, like Taikodani Inari in Tsuwano.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage Day 3


Sunday 16th December 2012, and I begin my third day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage with Mount Sanbe silhouetted  inland. Today I will walk from Shizuma down the coast and end at Nima.


There was one of the pilgrimage temples and lots of shrines.  A few mountain roads and a few villages and a nice stretch of beach to walk.


A great day for surfing, I guess,.... we get good surf mostly in the winter it seems.


A couple of the shrines are very intriguing and tell the story of the arrival of Susano from the Korean peninsula. Almost completely ignored in most renditions of the myths and early history of Japan, the two shrines were instrumental in sending me on the search for Susano stories...


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