Feb 28, 2014

Interruption for an art show

 This is an art show by the students of Mr. Oniwa. I think that there were pictures from three different classes. Altogether there were almost thirty pictures. Most were either oils or watercolors.
 There is my picture in the corner, beside a watercolor.
This still life contains both a still life of pottery and fruit and an artist's wooden box and the end of a box of watercolors.

Feb 27, 2014

Atop the kofun

 This picture was taken from the triangular area and looking toward the round part. The door is just out of sight in the shadowed area on the right.
 This was taken from the top of the round mound looking back at the spot where I was standing for the previous picture. Here you see that there is a flat shelf running all the way around the kofun but a meter or so below the top.
This is the round mound from the side opposite the door. The horizontal line is the flat are I mentioned above. Notice it does not actually go all the way around. It does not go around the top of the keyhole shape.

Feb 25, 2014

Hihaizuka Kofun

 I climbed the steps and found the kofun in front of me. From here I could not see the shape other than realizing that there were two mounds.
 Off to my right I found this signboard. It contains information about the size and lists all the things that were found when the site was excavated. The green and yellow drawing on the right shows the kofun from the top. This is what is termed a keyhole kofun for obvious reasons. The noble who is interred here would be under the center of the round part. The triangular section is flat and was used for various ceremonies. I spend quite a few minutes here reading the information on the sign.
In the brownish area on the drawing there is a break just below the circular area. The sign's text indicated that this was where they had entered during the excavation. I decided to check this out first. I found this door, which was securely padlocked. It is about a meter high and would allow easy access to the tunnel they dug inside.

Feb 24, 2014

Heading for a kofun

 My goal for this walk was a kofun, an old grave, that I found on a map. My route took me along a fairly main road. You will notice that it has no sidewalks, so I had to keep my eye on the traffic.
 This is the Kasuga Town branch of the Heaven Company. It is funeral service provided. They organize the ceremonies and the cremation the follow the death of someone. They are generally fairly pricey, even the Buddhist priest who officiate charge a large fee.
I turned off the main road and reach the kofun. It is the two mounds at the top of the stairs. The two trees are cherries so this place must be beautiful for a week or so in spring.

Feb 23, 2014

Along the Shinkansen tracks

 I decided to walk into Kasuga, the next town to the east. To get there I have to walk along and then under the Shinkansen tracks. There are two bridges and two sets of tracks in this picture because the nearer one goes to our local station HakataMinami and the repair and storage yards and the one in the distance is the Shinkansen tracks that go to the southern part of Kyushu.
 Passing under the second bridge, I could see some of Kasuga. There is a mixture of homes and small businesses.
I turned to the left and walked along a road that parallels the Shinkansen tracks. Here it is mostly homes with only a very few businesses.

Feb 22, 2014

The Name Unknown Temple

 The temple grounds are crushed between local homes. The space at the back of the ground, next to someone's home, contains a very small grave yard.
 This is a typical family grave. There are no bodies here. It appears that this site has a receptacle for ashes underneath the main platform. There is a small door. Most Japanese graves do not contain bodies or even ashes but are a site for the spirits of the family ancestors.
 This is a closer view of the stele at the top of the above grave. The writing says that this is the grave of the Saeki family.
 In front of the doors into the small building is a very nice stone bowl.
On the right side of the building is a stone pagoda and a lamp. The fence on the other side of the hedge is part of a large park, the place where I play ground golf.

Feb 21, 2014

More along the river and another temple

 Privacy is where you can find it in Japan. These two junior high school girls were listening to music and practicing their dance moves under a bridge. As you can see, there is a worker in the upper left and of course I could see them from the path along the bank so it was not really all that private but probably the best they could get.
 This the work that is being done to construct a new moveable dam across Naka River.
I was almost home, across the street from Antoku Park where I play ground golf when I noticed a small Buddhist temple. I have look at every map I can find and, while the building shows, I can not find out the name of this little temple.

Feb 20, 2014

Work along the river

 The area around this dam is getting a major rebuilding. You can see where they have dug out the banks.
 Here is a picture of the same dam from a distance. Last summer there were many trees along the left bank but they are now gone. I assume that, when they finish this work, the riverbed will be wider and straighter.
After taking the above pictures I turned around and noticed this tree. The white balls seemed to be berries of something. However, I am not sure since the birds have apparently left them alone.

Feb 19, 2014

Back streets

 I decided to stay on the back roads as much as I could. Although they carry two way traffic, these roads are only one narrow lane wide. If two cars meet, one of them has to back up.
 As I walked by one house with I large garden, I notice this cat eying me carefully.
The cat is sitting in the driveway next to the stone stele.

Feb 18, 2014

Moving on

 Inside the little Shinto shrine was this statue, which was only about a foot high. I believe it represents a god but I have no idea what one.
 I left the shrine and started walking toward home. Looking up I saw this large bell on a roof top.
Paying more attention to the building itself rather than the bell on the top right corner, I realized that it was an apartment building. Now, why would an apartment building have a bell on the roof? Simply decoration? An inscrutable Oriental thing? Who knows? I was tempted to go into the building and knock on doors, asking the occupants what the bell was for, but then I realized that they probably would not know, either.

Feb 17, 2014

Around Arahito Shrine

 This is a closeup of the things in front of the altar. The green things in the middle and in the yellow box on the left are sticks of incense to be burned in the white bowl. There are also some candles and matches. On the extreme right is a hollow wooden object that gives off a very pleasant sound when hit with a piece of wood. Many Buddhists sects use these objects to set the rhythm when they chant sutras.
 I turned 180 degrees and found I was looking back into Arahito Shrine. I could see the large tree and part of the structure for sumo.
Beside the Buddhist altar that we have been looking at there was a very small Shinto shrine. You can tell that it is Shinto because of the shimenawa. It appeared to have something inside and for a change there were no doors to block the view.

Feb 16, 2014

The Buddhist altar across the street from Arahito Shrine

 Looking into the altar, I could see this grouping of small statues on the right. They do not appear to be Buddhas, so they might be Bodhisattvas or even more likely some holy men.
 On the left was this statue, probably a Bodhisattva.
This is the Buddha statue in the middle. Notice the blue, I will have a specific symbolic meaning but it will differ according to the sect and I have no idea what sect maintains this mini temple.

Feb 15, 2014

Arahito Shrine continued

 This is the inside of the shrine shop. On the right are arrows, a basic feature of most shrine shops. People keep them at home on the household shrine, if they have one. On the left is a display of the amulets that you can buy. Many people now place these on their cell phones, for good luck and identification.
 Directly across the street from the shrine is a little Buddhist temple. Standing in front of it, I could put my hands on each of the vertical posts at the same time. So it is quite small.
The inside was visible and contained a Buddha, I think, or a Buddhisattva. In front there were fresh flowers and small offerings. As I have said before, Buddhism and Shinto are not really competitors and this little temple is here partially in support of the shrine.

Feb 14, 2014

Arahito Shrine

 This is one of the sacred trees on the shrine grounds.
 These are slips of paper with fortunes for the coming year written on them. You buy them from the shrine and, after reading them, you tie them up for the god to see, hoping that the god will help bring the good fortunes about and to change the bad fortunes.
Usually the shrine shop is on the grounds, but at Arahito Jinja it is across the street. This is where you purchase you fortune or buy amulets to protect you during the coming year.

Feb 13, 2014

Arahito Shrine interior

 This is the interior of the Arahito Shrine. The yellowish things hanging down from the horizontal pole at the top are bunches of rice stalks with the grains still attached. The purple things at the front right are folding chairs. There was obviously some sort of ceremony, probably related to the New Year. On the left at the front is the donation box but it has a sheet of plastic across it. I have no idea why. Maybe they have a different way of giving donations at this timeof year. Deeper inside the shrine are boxes containing gifts from the people to the shrine. Common gifts are large bottles of sake and cases of beer. These are usually saved and used during ceremonies and festivals.
 This is the shrine from the front. You can clearly see the donation box in the middle of the open area.
Off a little way to the left of the shrine is a sumo dohyo, the dirt ring in which the sumo matches take place. Sumo is now a professional sport with many international competitors. At the moment the top ranks are mostly filled by Mongolians.

Here the contests are probably between children rather than adults, and represent the religious roots from which the professional sport developed.

Feb 12, 2014

At Arahito Shrine

 I was approaching the Arahito Shrine along the street behind it. As I entered the Shrine grounds, I found a group of small shrines, each in a separate little building. The doors of the shrines were all closed so I could not see inside but they all had shimenawa across the enterance.
 Here are two more of the small shrines. They are very similar but if you look carefully, you will find some differences.
Continuing past these small shrines, I entered the side of the space in front of the main shrine. The front door was open and I was very interested in what might be inside, so I decided that before looking at anything else I would look inside.