Apr 30, 2012

Walking home from Toshogu

 Believe it or not, but this road has two way traffic on it. If I car comes in the other direction, it has to wait at a wide spot or back up. There is a huge number of roads like this in Japan.
 This road is much wider, but it only goes for a kilometer or so before it terminates in T-intersections at each end.
 This is a hand painted sign that shows all the houses and stores in the area, with names on most of them. This sign was in front of a supermarket which I entered.
 I bought my lunch, two egg salad sandwiches and a bottle of sports drink. I sat at a table in a section that is set aside for eating things that you buy in the store.
 I finally reached the end of the hill at Yaotome and could see the mountains through the trees.
The buildings are all down in the valley and the station is hidden behind the trees on the right.

Apr 28, 2012


 Exploring the upper level of the grounds, I found this little building. It had obviously been badly damaged in the earthquakes and has not yet been repaired enough to use.
 Even from the upper level the main gate is quite impressive.
 The stairs from the lower level are on the left. The roofed area contains a fountain where anyone who enters purifies themself by washing their hands, actually it is more like rinsing since there is no soap involved, only water.
 This is the outside of the building that allows entrance to the inner most shrine. I showed the inside a few days ago.
 This is the door to the inner shrine as seen through the wire fence.
These stone lanterns at the side of the inner shrine building are still broken. Some of the pieces are broken so repairing them would not be a simple question of piling them up again.


 Some more pictures of the individual pray boards.
 Here is what the whole rack of them looks like.
 Nearby I found this. The white objects are slips of paper that continue an individual's fortune. After you read it, you tie it this sort of display, or in many places a tree or a bamboo stalk. My understanding is that, if you do this, good fortunes will come true and bad ones will be negated.
 Looking back down at that first landing, this building was being worked on. Again there was no indication as to what it is used for.
The main part of the shrine is behind these closed doors. The entire building is surrounded by a wire fence and the only way in is through the room that I showed yesterday.
This is a fence that runs along the top of the wall between the first and second levels of the grounds. The writing lists the name of the donor, the date, and the amount of yen donated. This is now a common practice in both shrines and temples. Apparently people donate more if they get recognition for it. I have seen this sort of fence in many places. Also small statues with information on the base.

Apr 26, 2012


 These are the stairs up to the main gate. The tent-like things on the left and right will soon be sell food or souvenirs.
 The lantern on the left is missing. It was on the ground broken the last time I walked by here. Notice the string of lights overhead.
 I passed through the gate, which was of standard Buddhist construction - a statue of a warrior king on each side to protect the grounds from evil. However, they we designed so that the statues were in the dark and I could not get a picture of them. This level had a few buildings but there was no indication as to what they were used for.
 Continuing straight ahead, I could see into a shrine with a door in the back. This room was filled with paraphernalia for Shinto ceremonies.
 The mat floor had cushions so some sort of ceremony had recently or would soon take place. The white boxes on the left contain large bottles of Japanese sake which have been given as gifts. The givers name is written on the box.
Of to the left of this building was a rack holding wooden objects. On one side is a picture and on the other side is a hand written pray, most of which asked for success on an entrance exam. These are one of the sources of income for the shrine because the blank objects must be purchased in the shrine gift shop.

Apr 25, 2012


 It was a beautiful day so I decided to walk to Toshogu, a large Shinto shrine, and take pictures. As I crossed the bridge on the way toward Yaotome, I could see the mountains. This is quite unusual as they are mostly hidden in the mist.
 Walking past the station and crossing the little stream, I found that the blue tarps had blown off, revealing the deep cracks in the ground that had been caused by the earthquakes.
 Walking down the valley floor, I looked up and saw what looked like a small grave yard. Some day I will have to find a way up there and see what it actually is.
 A bit further on I found a kindergarten, whene the children had painted self portraits and pictures of things and events that were important for their year. There was a separate board for each year.
 Finally I arrived at Toshogu. All along the entrance walk, there were people setting up stands to sell food and souvenirs. I do not know if there was some sort of ceremony or if they would keep the stands there until Golden Week. There are four national holidays in a space of eight days so almost everyone gets a lot of days off. This year Monday, April 30, and the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday are holidays. The weather is usually good and just becoming warm in Sendai. It is a time to relax, take short trips and enjoy yourself in preparation for the rainy season which will start after a month or so of Spring weather.
This is a stele bearing the name Toshogu. It marks the entrance to the shrine grounds.

Apr 24, 2012

Walking home from Hachisaka Jinja

 Another row of new houses in what used to be an empty field. As I have said before, there is a housing boom in Sendai. Many of the people who lost their homes, and there the number is in the tens of thousands, moved into Sendai, filling all of the available housing and creating a demand for more. I should point out that most of the new places are very expensive and not up to the before-the-tsunami standards.
 This rather large dam, standing here where there is no water, reminds me of the 'port' projects made by the American Congress. However, this does have a real purpose. It is a catchment basin for guerrilla rain and the runoff from the rainy season. Large underground pipes in the housing area behind me bring the runoff here, where it is held so that it can drain away slowly.
 This little apartment house seems to be a cube.
 Turning and looking in  the other direction, there was a long, long row of apartment buildings, only five stories high but they continued as far as I could see.
 This the top of a mound of dirt in the middle of a park. Until I actually walked over and looked, I always though it was an old burial mound or something. However, the little rectangular object in the middle is a survey marker and the stones are just there to protect it.
This row of trees was not visible until the tore down the house that used to be here. The trees are very strange looking because all of the branches on this side have been cut off. They look like half trees.

Apr 23, 2012

Walking home from Hachisaka Jinja

 My last view of the hill with the jinji as I went south toward home.
 When the expressway was first built, this was one of the few bridges to allow traffic to cross without a long detour. The bridge is narrow, with space for only one car at a time. It is getting old and now is used only for pedestrian traffic of which there is not much.
 Earlier I had stopped at Green Mart and bought some bread and a drink for lunch. I sat on the far bench and ate my lunch.
 After lunch are started walking again and passed through a shopping center. One of the office spaces was used by a doctor with an interesting slogan on his or her sign "Orange Bonesetting".
 The Sendai ByPass, Route 4, follows the valley and on the hills on the far side there are a number of towers with water tanks to supply water pressure for the homes in the hills.
This is a housing development on the hill top. The colors washed out in the photo but each of the houses is a different color.

Apr 22, 2012

Hachisaka Jinja

 These two stelae are each engraved with the words mountain god.
 This is the row of stelae.
 Very surprisingly, on the far side of the grounds, I found a graveyard. This is surprising because graveyards are associated with temples, not shrines which are concerned with purity.
 This is the view from the top of the stairs.
 I left the shrine and walked across the area seen in the picture from the top of the stairs. I turned and looked back at the shrine but it was hidden in the trees at the top of the hill. You can, however, see the stairs in this picture.
The farmer, when I used my telephoto lens, was typical in that he was old enough to have white hair.

Apr 21, 2012

Hachisaka Jinja

 About three quarters of the way up the flight of stairs, there were short dirt paths leading off to the left and right. Along the uphill sides there were rows of bas-relief statues, some Shinto and some Buddhist. These appeared to be Buddhist although it was hard to tell.

 This row was a mixture of Buddhist and Shinto and there did not seem to be any particular reason for the order. However, it is quite possible that there was something esoteric about it.
 The center stele is engraved with the name of Kannon, a Boddhisattva, and the other two stones contain statues of him.
 This is a Shinto god who is somehow related to horses and thus to the nobility.
 Looking over the top stair, you find the shrine itself.
On the right side of the shrine is another row of bas-relief carvings.