May 31, 2014

The grounds of Hachiryu Jinja

 Hachiryu Jinja consists of two buildings and some stone sculptures. As always there are many old trees on the grounds.
 The altar was completely closed off, but I could see a lot of panels and other decorations.
The view from the back of the altar. You can see the torii thought the building and the small building on the right.

May 30, 2014

Hachiryu Jinja

 I found these plants in a field beside the road. I have no idea what they might be. The only clue is that someone is raising them, so I suspect that they will produce something edible.
 One of my main goals for this walk was the Hachiryu Jinja, the Eight Dragon Shrine. There is an eight headed dragon in Japanese mythology about prehistoric times, so I suspect that this shrine is somehow related to that dragon, ryu in Japanese. As I approached I could see the roof rising above a hedge of blossoms.
The torii was almost on the street. When the shrine was first made, I suspect that would have been a simple dirt path through here. The road is now a national numbered road and it allows access into the mountainous area which is not far off to the right.

May 29, 2014

Sights along the road

 There some old weathered buildings along this road.
 There are also some very large homes. I would guess that this home has at least nine rooms.
Rice straw has been harvested, rolled into thick wheels and covered with plastic. Within all the greenery, the white was almost shocking.

May 28, 2014

A Buddha, a woodpile, and a private altar

 Still at Site 17, I took one last picture of the central figure which may or may not be a Buddha.
 This is a very unusual sight in Japan, a covered all-weather woodpile. I could not tell whether they heated with wood or had some other use for it, a pottery kiln, for example.
This was just inside the grounds around a private home. Inside the small shrine there appeared to be a stone. I was tempted to enter the yard and look closely at it, but considering that it was a private home, I restrained myself.

May 27, 2014

Site 17

 A little ways down the road, I discovered another of the 88 pilgrimage sites. This one was set back from the road on the side of a hill. It consisted of a single small building. The area around had just been mowed and I could smell the cut grass. Off to the side and under a small tree was a line of fire wood. All in all it was a very pleasant place.
 Walking up and stepping into the small open area under the roof, I could see the objects on the altar. I was surprised to find that it was a collection of small figures. The largest figure seemed to be a Buddha who was flanked by Bodhisattvas. The small figures are probably protecting kings and mythical beings. Notice that they were originally covered with gold leaf but most of it has worn off.
Here are the figures on the right side. There is a lot of detail on the figures but they are not particularly artistic. It would be very interesting to discover if anyone knows where they came from.

May 26, 2014

Site 14 and some solar panels.

 This is the Buddha (?) statue on the altar. The 88 place pilgrimages are usually associated with Kannon, so this may be Kannon rather than a Buddha. They are hard for me to tell apart.
 The altar is in the little building and next to it is a stele with undecipherable writing on it.
On the other side of the road, a little further on, I found this large array of solar panels. It was obviously some sort of commercial establishment but I could not find a sign to get an explanation.

May 25, 2014

Site 14 of the Nakagawa 88 place pilgrimage

 Leaving Arabito Jinja I enter the real countryside. Mostly farm land scattered between low tree-covered hills. It was a very pleasant place to walk.
 Entering a slightly built up area, I found site 14 of the Nakagawa 88 place pilgrimage. About a hundred years ago, someone set up 88 Buddhist altars around the town, so that people could do a pilgrimage without every leaving the town. I have not had time to go to the library to research this pilgrimage, but if it is like the others, a believer would visit each one and chant the Heart Sutra. Walking is most traditional but using a car, motorcycle or bicycle is also okay. Doing this is supposed to bring merit toward your rebirth. I find that it is a relaxing activity, gives goals for walks, and provides effects similar to those obtained from meditation.
  You can see that someone has placed fresh flowers on the altar and some of the cups have tea in them. The writing on the board up under the eaves says that his is the 14th place.

May 24, 2014

Arabito Shrine - continued

 This stone lantern is on the grounds. You can see the torii on the left.
 This is the torii and the neighboring housing area from inside the grounds.
As I have shown before, people place small stones on the cross bars of the torii.

NOTE: I do not know how it happened but yesterday's second post is out of order. It should have appeared on May 20.

May 23, 2014

Heading south

 This little shrine is apparently maintained by the trucking company, probably asking the god to prevent accidents.
 A very picturesque stele beside the road.
Crossing a bridge, I found koinobori, fish shaped banners, flying (swimming?) from ropes stretched across a small river. Koinobori are usually hung up for a week or more during the period around Children's Day, May 5th.

The altar at Arabito Jinja

 The altar is in a small stone building with stone doors. This sort of shrine is very common in this area. Although it is not big enough to have a permanent priest, someone obviously takes care of the grounds. The branches beside the doors are fresh and there is no trash around the area.

Since the doors were open, I could see into the altar. The two round objects are mirrors. Usually the mirror represents the sun but here I suspect that the second mirror represents the moon. The cup contains green tea and the whitish object to the right of the cup is a clump of salt.

May 22, 2014

Arahito Jinja

 My first goal on this walk is the Arahito Jinja. There is another, larger shrine with the same name to the east of here. I assume that they are somehow connected. The other one is quite famous and has some important festivals. The name is interesting. Ara means emerging or becoming visible and hito means person, so this is the Shrine of the Emerging Person. The torii is visible at the end of the road.
 The shrine turned out to be quite small, adding to my guess that it is some sort of branch of the more famous shrine.
Standing at the front of the shrine with the bell rope on my left, I could see across the assembly floor and into the altar.

May 21, 2014

A special tree

 I was now farther south than I have ever been on any of my walks. This tower was apparently part of a restaurant or some other commercial establishment. It was not on the road I was following so I did not go over to find out. Maybe the next time I am in this area.
 This tree with a huge trunk was in the corner of the parking lot for a company. It is hard to see but right in front of the tree there is a seat and a bus stop. Many companies and neighborhood associations put seats at the local bus stops. I'm sorry for the tilted picture but the sun was shining on the screen of the camera and I just had to guess at the framing for the picture.
When I reached the tree, I discovered that it is protected by the town and has a stele associated with it. The sign gives the details about the type of tree and the legal protections.

May 19, 2014

Into the unknown

 This is the building where the Senior Club holds its meetings. I have, of course, been this far along the road many times.
 However, just a little farther and I was in a new area. Here the canal splits in two taking the water to different rice paddies. At least that was the way it was in the past. Now most of the rice paddies have been replaced by housing and the canals are now used for drainage.
This is how to construct a building when your land is little more than the side of a hill.

May 18, 2014

Starting a new long walk

 I decided to walking into a valley that is to the south of my apartment. I have never walked in that area so it should be interesting. The map shows some shrines and a temple. This large flower pot is sitting in the middle of a canal that supplies water for the rice paddies. The canal is about a meter and a half wide.
 This narrow lane leads in to a shrine, but I have been there before so I decided not to stop. You can see part of the torii at the end or the road.
I posted this stele a couple of times in the past. It is near the civic center where the Senior Club meets.

May 17, 2014

Antoku Park

 This tree, which had all the small branches trimmed off last autumn, is now cover by new green leaves growing directly out of the larger branches.
 The ground is pink from fallen cherry blossoms.
While checking out the remaining blossoms, I noticed this pair of pigeons flirting on a branch. Spring is definitely here.

May 16, 2014

At Antoku Park

 I was out for a walk and decided to see how the cherry blossoms were holding up in Antoku Park. When I arrived there was a baseball tournament in progress. This is where I play ground golf two days a week. The course is set up on the dirt in an area the size of a soccer pitch.
 Walking through the parking lot, I found people having a BBQ picnic. I was tempted to stop and start talking to them to see if I could get invited to join them but decided not to. There are still a few cherry blossoms on the branch above them but most of the petals have already fallen.

 There were people picnicking on the top of the kofun, burial mound, too. The ground here is pink from all the fallen petals. As I've said before, the fallen petals represent the end of our short but beautiful lives.

May 15, 2014

Leaving Hachimangu

 The square white building is the fire station and the tall pole beside it is the one from which the hoses that I showed yesterday were hanging.
One nice thing about house construction work in Japan is that they always cover the site like this. It keeps the sawdust, dirt, etc. from spreading and it also cuts down on the noise. The construction workers also keep the streets clean around the site, sweeping and washing as needed.