Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stone Buddhas of Oita City

While not as impressive nor numerous as the stone Buddhas to the south of Oita City in Usuki or to the north in the Kunisaki Penisula, There are some example of stone buddhas, ie relief carving directly in rock, in Oita City.

To the south of the modern downtown area is the old town of Motomachi, and along a short historical walk that takes in some old temples and shrines are a few examples.

The one shown here are the Motomachi Stone Buddhas and the Iwayaji Temple Stone Buddhas.

They havent been restored, but they cost nothing to view. If you are in Oita then the historic walk is a nice break.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Utsu Shrine

Utsu Shrine is located in the little fishing port of Ocho on Osaki Shimozima Island in the Aki Nada chain of islands in the Inland Sea between Hiroshima and Shikoku.

It was founded in 773 and the kami enshrined here is Yasomagatsuhi no kami which translates as "countless magatsuhi gods" with magatsuhi being a kami that brings about sin, pollution, disaster, disorder etc etc. The kami was produced from the pollutions experienced by Izanagi when he visited Izanami in Yomi, the underworld.

In 1217 a further two kami were added, Kannaobi and Onaobi, which can be translated as Divine Renewal Godm & Great renewal God. They "came into existence" right after Magatsuhi as "rectification".

The shrine became known for protection at sea as well as protection against all forms of "pollution".

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kyushu Pilgrimage Temple 26 Fukuju-in

The 26th temple on the 108 temple Shingon Pilgrimage around Kyushu, Fukuju-in, is located near the ruins of Funai castle in Oita City.

In the 17th Century is was moved inside the castle grounds and used as the family temple of the Matsudaira. In the Meiji period when the castle was decommissioned it was moved to its present location.

The Honzon of the temple is Fudo Myo O, but the main hall was locked up so I couldnt see it. Among the statues in the small grounds was a Benzaiten. It may be related to a story in the temple records of a Hitobashira. Hitobashira were human sacrifices , buried alive beneath castles and bridges and even riverbanks.

According to this story, when the castle was built a young maiden was buried alive beneath the foundations. She clutched a small statue of Benzaiten to herself.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ikuchi Bridge

The sun was getting low as I approached Ikuchi Bridge on the first day of my walk from Honshu to Shikoku along the Shimanami Kaido.

Connecting Innoshima with Ikuchijima, it is a cable-stayed bridge built in 1991.

The total length is 790 meters with the main span being 490 meters. The two supports are delta shaped.

Once across to Ikuchijima I had to find somewhere to lay my sleeping bag for the night.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Inside Art Plaza

The former Prefectural Library in Oita City, originally constructed in 1966, was converted, under the direction of the original architect Arata Isozaki, in 1996 to the Art Plaza.

Entry is free and various exhibitions and performances take place there.

On the second floor are rooms devoted to the architectural works of Arata Isozaki, including plans, drawings, photos, and models.

This model shows another library designed by Isozaki, this one in Kitakyushu.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 4 Anrakuji

The sun was close to setting at the end of my second day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage when I arrived at Anrakuji.

I did not expect to see many grand temples on this pilgrimage as it is just around my local area, but the Nio here impressed me.

The temple is located on a hillside outside of Oda City, not far from the sea. It is a Shingon temple and was founded at the end of the 10th Century.

It was a pleasant temple with enough statues to keep me interested......

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Arata Isozaki Art Plaza

One of my favorite Japanese architects is Arata Isozaki. He was born in Oita in 1931 and after graduating worked under Kenzo Tange.

The first building he completed after becoming independent was the Prefectural Library in his home town of Oita, completed in 1996.

In 1996 the library moved to a new building, but rather than demolish the original it was renovated by Isozaki himself and turned into an arts center called Art Plaza.

One floor of the building is devoted to the works of Isozaki and include models and drawings of some of his more famous buildings.....

Monday, May 29, 2017

Some Unusual Ema

Ema, votive plaques, can be found at many shrines and temples and nowadays are usually a standard size and shape, though variations abound. The heart shape is becoming more common and its purpose is fairly obviously to petition for finding a lover. Ema are usually wooden, but these are made of ceramic. The other ceramic ema are in the shape of miniature kawara, rooftiles. Found at Zuiryujimirakumogosho, a small temple on top of Mount Hachiman in Shiga.

These unusual ema I found at the Inari shrine on the hill above Miyajidake Shrine in Fukuoka. The petitioner draws or paints a face onto the blank face of the fox.

These ema at Takeuchi Shrine in Higashi Izumo have a blank human body shape on which you mark which part of your body you have a problem with that you ask for healing.

These spoon shaped ema can be found at many places. They are rice scoops, in Japan sukuu, but the word pronounce the same but written with a different kanji  means "save", as in salvation. These are at Rakan-ji, a temple near Nakatsu in Oita.

At Nangu Taisha in Gifu there were the standard shaped ema as well as circular ones and some shaped like toy dogs.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Funai Castle

The ruins of Funai Castle are in downtown Oita City, though when it was built this was the coast. Some form of catle was here in the mid 16th Century, but its current form soidified at the end of the 16th century.

It is most famously known as one of Otomo Sorin's castles though he was defeated here by the Shimazu in 1586. Sorin is probably the most well known of the Christian warlords. Hideyoshi helped him retake the castle but later took the fief away from Sorins son.

Most of the castle burned down in 1743 and like most castles was decommisioned in 1872. The main gate and two towers were reconstructed in 1965 and in 1996 the covered bridge was restored.

It is now a free park and a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Saba Daishi Honbon

At the end of the tenth day of my walk along the Shikoku pilgrimage I was at Saba Daishi, a small temple on the coast near Mugi. I spent the night in their tsuyado, a free room for walking pilgrims to spend the night.

The name Saba Daishi comes from a legend concerning Kobo Daishi and a mackerel seller, hence the statue of Kobo Daishi holding a mackerel.

It is one of the "bangai" temples, 20 extra temples added to the 88 to make the round figure of 108, the number of beads in a Buddhist rosary, the number of times the bell is rung at the new year, and the number of earthly desires we mortals must overcome to attain enlightenment.

The Goma-do, the hall where the goma ritual is performed in front of Fudo Myo, is underground in the hillside, and a tunnel leads to it. Lining the tunnel are 88 statues representing the 88 temple of the pilgrimage. If one steps on each of the 88 tiles it is a miniature version of the whole pilgrimage.

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