May 31, 2013

Walking home from Daitokuji

 This little store sells imitation Japanese armor. I assume that they do most of there business at this time of year, around Boy's Day.
 I continued walking up a long hill and, when I reached the top, I was very surprised to see Mirikaroden in the valley in front of me.
 At the end of the building in the above picture, a driveway is marked by posts in the sidewalk. These posts have LED lights on them and are powered by little solar cells. More and more in Japan, I am finding lighting that is powered by sources other than the electric company. It is obviously a good thing and I hope the trend continues.
 I was getting hungry. My lunch was a sandwich and a sweet that I had bought at a 7/11 near the Shinkansen tracks. The sandwich is interesting because it is called a 'juicy egg sand'. The yolks were not completely cooked so that is the source of the juiciness. Japanese reduces the English word sandwich to sando and writes it in katakana.
 When I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned right and then right again. I was now on a road paralleling the one I had been on but going in the other direction. The building with the photocell lights is in the distant center of the picture.
A large area on my left was devoted to vegetable gardens and there were a number of people at work there.

May 30, 2013


 This is a place to hang written wishes in the hope that they will become reality. Actually in Buddhism this sort of thing is not possible in the strictest sense, but many people believe anyway.
 This shows a detail of how traditional buildings are made in Japan. There are no nails. Here a slot was cut in the upright and a horizontal piece was slid into it, spanning the space between uprights. Then rather than nailing the horizontal piece in place a wedge is pounded into the slot, holding everything together. In an earthquake this type of construction allows a huge amount of movement of the individual pieces, while maintaining the integrity of the whole structure.
 As I was leaving I saw a newer building behind one of the others. This building is quite large and seemed to be in use at the moment. Also there was a bicycle parked by the building on the left. Then three people came from behind the building.
 The walked around to the front of this building, climbed the stairs, and after unlocking the door entered. At this point I did not have my camera in my hand and by the time I got it ready they were inside.
 Temples and shrines always have a large sign, usually stone, announcing their name and sect affiliation. This temple is, as I have said, Daitokuji of the Shingon Sect. A little ways down the hill on the same road I had arrived on, I saw a parking lot full of cars. I now knew that this lot was directly behind the new building in the third picture above so I assumed that these cars belonged to the people in the building.
Back at the Shinkansen tracks I decided to see where this road went. I crossed at the lights and found this, an auto repair shop specializing in 4x4s.

May 29, 2013


 It is interesting that there are fresh flowers and other offerings but nothing else is disturbed. The leaves lie where they fell and plants are gradually covering everything.
 This must be popular because there is a little gong sitting on the right, between the statue and the incense bowl. Again  there are fresh flowers.
 I found these stairs going up hill. I hope to explore these paths in the fall when everything will be less overgrown.
 I really appreciated this little statue. I would love to have one like it in my home.
 I finally reached the end of the temple property. The path continued on and entered a housing area on the other side of the trees on the right. The empty property seems to belong to a construction company.
Turning around and starting back, I discovered another statue hidden in the greenery. It was too far uphill and there were too many plants to climb up to it, so I was unable to determine the purpose of the clear plastic box at the foot.

May 28, 2013


 I noticed that there was what seemed to be a path going around the left side of the building. When I went over to investigate, I found a beautiful old stone wall and off in the distance a Shinto torii.
 Before reaching the torii, however, I found a roofed over area contain a large number of statues. Each statue was different and they seemed to represent mythical Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The ones on the right were partially hidden by a bush, so I moved to a position where I could see over the bush.
 My eyes were immediately drawn to the five miniature statues at the front edge. As you can see from the cups in the above two pictures, people have been leaving offerings.
 On the opposite side of the path, there were some stone models of buildings, each containing a little statue.
 I finally reached the torii and found a very small shrine. The doors were shut so I could not see what was inside.
Next to the shrine was another roofed area containing statues. Again each was different.

May 27, 2013


 This is the back of the main gate. As I came up the stairs I did not realize that I was passing through a gate, I thought that it was a building because the top part of the structure is a covered walkway connecting two of the buildings.
 It was not possible to tell which was the main building but this one was obviously very old and contained an altar. The usual paraphernalia for the standard ritual area here, so I suspect that this might have been the original structure. This is the same ritual that I did at each temple while walking the Henro Pilgrimage. You light a candle and then some incense and then ring a bell (the hanging rope) and deposit a small coin as an offering before chanting a sutra. As you can see there were people around because a number of candles are burning in the case, but I only saw one person. A women came out of this building through a side door and, after staring at me in amazement, crossed to the building just out of sight on the right in the previous picture. Also I noticed that the doors were slightly open.
 After the woman disappeared, I went up to the doors and put my camera in the open space. Inside was a statue. This seems to be a Shingon Sect temple, so it is likely that this is a statue of Kukai, the monk who, after a long trip to China, introduced the sect to Japan.
 I found the grounds to be very appealing. The vegetation was encroaching on the open areas and threatening to hide all the statues.
 At first I did not even notice this pagoda because it was hidden so far back in the trees.
This is again probably Kukai. After his return from China, he traveled around Japan, establishing temples in many places. He also became a government official and contributed much to the growth of Japan.

May 25, 2013

At Daitokuji

 This is the entrance to the Daitokuji temple. Dai means great or large and toku means virtue or morality. Of course, ji means temple, so what I wrote in the first sentence is really "Daitoku temple temple".
 To my right as I went in, I found the bell tower and behind it some sort of temple building.
 On the right, opposite the bell tower there is a statue of someone. I historical Japanese Buddhist but I was not sure who it was.
 This small building had very heavy doors so I assume it is the treasure house where they store the temple valuables, statues, paintings, pottery, gold ritual objects, etc.
 The path was truly nestled in the woods. These stairs lead to a path up the mountain (hill?, it is not very tall) behind the temple. There are supposed to be some ruins and other stuff up there. At this time of year there are many mosquitoes so I decided to wait until the fall to go up there.
These little statues sat meditating in front of one of the small buildings along the path.

May 24, 2013

A new walk

 I decided to walk south along the Shinkansen tracks, but on the back roads for part of the way. This sign is very confusing because it is located at least three blocks away from the station and there is no indication as to which way you should go to get there. Somethings about Japan really are inscrutable.
 Much of Japanese agriculture is done on a small scale like this. The power equipment is expensive, so often it is owned by a farmer's cooperative.
 Off the back roads and on the main road next to the tracks. I do not remember ever seeing a yellow Shinkansen before.
 When I reached the opposite end of the train, the yard was full of people in uniform. Maybe the yellow train is some sort of practice or training train.
 At this point the tracks are elevated, which is convenient because I want to go under them.
On the other side of the tracks is a long, steep hill. The sun was very hot and about half way up I had to stop for a rest. My goal was a temple that is on the other side of these hills.

May 23, 2013

Mirikaroden Art Class

 This is the entrance to Mirikaroden. My art class is on the second floor in the left side of the building.
 I stopped in a men's room and found this interesting sign. In so many words it says to please take your dirty diapers home with you.
 The hallway had little alcoves with some interesting works of art.
 In another alcove.
 Since it was my first class, I did not feel comfortable taking pictures. Maybe after I have become part of the group, I will be able to show you the room. After class was over, I visited the library while waiting for the bus. At one end there was a separate room which contained a little museum devoted to a local man who apparently was quite famous. I could not read the kanji for his name and I did not stay long enough to figure out why he was famous. It was obvious that he did calligraphy and some of his work was on display, for example on both the left and right in the picture. The weird looking thing in the middle of the picture is a natural tree branch that he used as a stand for his brushes.
 When I arrived back at the bus stop near my apartment, I walked home. This little building is a place for the people in another apartment building to leave their trash. At first I thought it was a playhouse for kids. Then I read the signs that give the trash pickup schedule.

May 22, 2013

Going to my first art class

 My bus started moving from the intersection so I went back and stood at the stop.
 As you can see, the Kawasemi are very small buses, because they have to negotiate some very narrow back roads. When I got on, there was only one other passenger, although during the 20 minutes or so that I was on board, people got on and off, maybe ten people all together.
 At one point during the ride, I looked out my window and saw this store. The name is in English, transcribed into Japanese pronunciation with katakana. The original English is "World Pet World". Visions of grandeur, I guess.
 We reached Mirikaroden. I got off and the bus left.
I noticed a sculpture near the building so I walked over to look at it. It is a mother and two children, but I did not understand the significance.