Mar 31, 2014

Searching for more blossoms

 I decided to walk around town and see if I could find some other cherry trees. I crossed the stream and started toward a little shrine that I had visited before. This building is a community center for a different neighborhood than the one I live it. I've walked by it before, but for some reason I had never noticed the tall metal tower with the observation platform on the top. I assume that it was built before there was a public fire department and would have been used to locate houses or other things on fire. Probably the reason that I had not noticed it before is that their is a shrine next to it. You can just see the roof line behind the upright.
 As I got closer I could see that the single cherry tree by the shrine was in full bloom, although it was not as impressive as the trees in Antoku Park.
This is the shrine from the other side. Or I guess I should say the torii at the entrance since you can not actually see the shrine.

Mar 30, 2014

More cherry blossoms

 Antoku Park, where people are picnicking on the kofun.
 I left the park and start walking north along the stream. This beautiful branch was hanging out over the water.
Here I almost felt like I was walking though a tunnel of blossoms.

Mar 29, 2014

More cherry blossoms

 The trees were in full bloom and really smelled nice.
 This picture shows the top of the kofun (a grave mound about 1,500 years old) in Antoku Park. The people are having picnics under the cherry blossoms. When the blossoms come up, the people come out. Most company employees stake out an area under the trees and, as soon as work is over for the day, they go and eat and drink under the trees.

Cherry blossoms have a strong metaphorical meaning for the Japanese. When they bloom, they are beautiful but only for a short time. Then they die and make a mess, contrasting with the previous beauty. This is a metaphor for life. We live beautiful lives but they are short and then we die and rot away. One additional feature to the metaphor. The trees blossom every year and this can be likened to the Buddhist concept of reincarnation. The same thing comes back (the blossoms) but each time they are different.
This is the kofun as viewed from the parking lot. My ground golf course is off to the left.

Mar 28, 2014

A beautiful day

 Yesterday, Thursday, March 27, turned out to be a beautiful day after a very poor beginning. I had rained on Tuesday and Wednesday, also during the early morning on Thursday. It was a ground golf day, so my wife and went to the grounds to see if we would play. Although the ground was quite wet and the sky had the look of more rain, the forecast was for clear skies, so the group decided to play. This is our ground before the 'holes' were set. I will have more about ground golf sometime in the future. Look at the trees in the distance. They are pink. The cherry trees were in full bloom. By the time we had finish playing, the sky had cleared and it was a beautiful warm day. I decided to go for a walk to see the cherry trees.
 This tree is beside the stream that runs behind the hill in the first picture. Actual it is not a natural hill, but it is a kofun and old grave mound. It has been excavated and is now part of Antoku Park.
For the first time this year, I saw kids playing in the water.

Mar 27, 2014

Going home

 Up the hill behind the shrine there was what looked like the beginning of a fairly large bamboo grove.
 I left the shrine area and started walking in the general direction of home. Soon I surprisingly ran into a Baptist church. Big cities have quite a few small churches, but I have not seen many in Nakagawa-machi or Kasuga city, the two areas where I have been doing all my walking.
I was passing through an area with a lot of small farms, when I notice this orange-ish building. There was a canal between my road and the building so I did not go over to see what it was. It looked like it might be some kind of public building, meeting rooms for a neighborhood association of some sort.

Mar 26, 2014

Leaving Ten Jinja

 The two white objects at the base of the cliff (that I showed yesterday) turned out to be vases of flowers in front of a small statue. The flowers were not new, but had not yet completely wilted.
 Beside the stairs leading to the street level, there was a stele with a shimenawa. In front of it were two boxes with flowers and some ritual objects. The flowers were very unusual. This was the first time I have seen flowers growing in boxes, rather than fresh cut flowers.
Back down on the street level, I could see the shrine through the blossoms.

Mar 25, 2014

Ten Jinja

 This one of the pair of lions who guard the entrance to the shrine. They keep out evil spirits.
 Off to the side I found this carved rock. I think it is used as a basin for water to purify yourself before participating in any religious activity.
Looking back at the hole that I showed yesterday, I noticed something toward the bottom right in the picture. The two white objects at the base of the cliff. There was also, off to the left, a pile of bamboo of various lengths and diameters. Again, I have no idea as to what they were, or are going to be, used for.

Mar 24, 2014

VIew from Ten Jinja

 Because the shrine is well up the side of the hill, I had a good view our over the area.
 Looking farther to the right, I could see the Shinkansen tracks where then enter a tunnel to the south of the station.
I walked around to the other side of the building and up on a steep cliff, I saw a large hole. I was unable to decide whether it was part of the shrine or not.

Mar 23, 2014

Ten Jinja

 Looking at the altar of the shrine I could see a white object inside.
 With my telephoto lens I was able to see that the object on the altar was a mirror. This is quite common and usually has a connection with the sun god who is reflected in the mirror. I did not go up close to the altar because you have to take off your shoes and I was wearing my hiking shoes which are a bit hard to get off and put on again.
Walking around the right side of the building I found a path going up into the bamboo grove further up the hill.

Mar 22, 2014

At Ten Jinja

 Ten Jinja means heaven shrine, using only a single character for ten, or heaven. I was standing on the sidewalk when I took this picture. The staircase and the torii all look new.
 At the top of the stairs I found a small building, protected by lions on each side of the top of the stairs.
When I reached the small flat open area in front of the building, I found the ashes of a large bonfire. This is probably where people brought all the amulets and objects from their home shrines to be burned. These objects are thought to absorb all the bad luck and negativity that might have occurred during the previous year. They are burned to ensure that the bad luck does not return and actualize in the coming year.

Mar 21, 2014

A temple and a shrine

 This temple is on the hillside above the sidewalk. I visited it last year and it was not particularly picturesque so I did not bother going up the stairs.
 I am not sure whether this house is the residence of the priest or completely unrelated. I think the main entrance to both the temple and the house are on a driveway behind them.
This was one of my goals for this walk. The little building on the hill is a shrine. It is only a hundred meters or so passed the temple but I had never visited it. It was not marked on the map that I was using the last time I was in this area. Japanese maps are very interesting because no single map identifies all of the shrines, temples and major buildings. I usually check at least two and often more before going into a new area. Even then I keep my eye out for things that are not marked on any of the maps.

Mar 20, 2014

A beautiful day

 Walking along these roads is very pleasant - a nice view and very little traffic.
 At one interesection, I found this stele but I could not read the writing on it because of the weathering.
This appeared to be a private home. Maybe it is one of the old residences of the areas farmers before the population increase that accompanied the spreading out of Fukuoka city.

Mar 19, 2014

Along a street

 The paved area has been divided by a canal. The only way to distinguish the sidewalk from the road is the posts that a blocking the road at the next bridge. Also, this is a good example of the way buildings here in Fukuoka are made to stand out by having interesting shapes, just look at the tall building on the left.
 Looking between to not very special buildings, I was able to glimpse a special garden. I think many people are more concerned about the garden than the building.
The sidewalk I was following just ends. It looks like they are planning to continue it but the work has obviously stopped, probably because funding will not continue until next year. I was forced to dodge across traffic to get to the other side of the road. Until now there had been no sidewalk on the other side, but now the only sidewalk was over there and the only way to get to it was through traffic. In Japan roads alternate between being narrow and being wide, sidewalks come and go. This is because of funding and property rights. When they have a chance they widen a road, even if it is just for a few tens of meters.

Mar 18, 2014

Naming buildings and a new dam

 This is a very new apartment building. The last time I came by here, it was still under construction. It lloked quite nice but it is a bit inconvenient unless you have a car.
 As I walked by the entrance, I noticed the name of the building - HUMIND KEYAKIDORI FOREST. The first word is apparently a Japanese creation made by combining the English words human and mind. The second is Japanese and keyaki is a kind of tree and dori means road, so it must be the name of the street, even though Japanese people generally do not name roads. They name the spaces between the roads. The final word is English and it probably refers back to keyaki. Some of the names that are created in Japan are extremely interesting.
A little farther on, I came back to the Naka River and saw that the new dam has been completed. The blue thing is a moveable dam that can be raised or lowered depending on the amount of water in the river. On the left of the blue section is another similar section which is currently in the down position. They have also rerouted the stream entering from the left so that it now flows into the river downstream of the dam.

Mar 17, 2014

More odds and ends, mostly odds, though

 The little truck farm across the street from my apartment has been in operation all winter. In the middle is two rows of daikon, on the right is horenso, Japanese spinach, and I don't remember what was in the row on the left.
 This is one of the still lifes that I drew.
 Walking along the river, I saw this guy, or maybe a gal, I'm not sure which, looking for lunch.
I saw this building on the other side of a main road and at first dismissed it as another auto dealer. However, looking at the display windows, it was obvious that there were no cars, but what were the strange looking things?
I crossed the street and, up close, I got my answer. They are rice planting machines. The rice is first grown in little blocks until it is a couple of inches long. Then those blocks are placed in the vertical slots in these machines. The machine is driven through the paddy and it tears the blocks apart and plants the rice in four equally spaced rows. They are a great labor saving device and as far as I know most farmers set up a small cooperative group that buys the machine and then shares its use.

Mar 16, 2014

Interesting names

 This garage is called Life Garage. If you look at the actual picture, you can see the wording on the red sign and in the next picture on the side of the bus.
 The yellow vehicle is a small bus for picking up kindergarten students. The name of the school is on the side, MyMySchool.
This store is called Stone Aerth. They sell stones and gemstones. The types that some people think have various powers. I was surprised to see this because there was one in Sendai, which means this is part of a chain.