Oct 30, 2014

Approaching Takatsu Shrine

 As you can see, the route became very steep.
 At this point point it became a little scary. There was an almost vertical drop to the left, less than a meter from you feet as you climbed the irregular stairs. Also there was a large boulder on the left that was not attached to anything. It was just sitting there. You can see a corner of it on the left in the picture. I was not sure whether the tree was actually holding it in place or not.
I rounded the bend shown in the previous picture and got my first view of the shrine. I was surprised that there was more than one building, considering how high up the steep hill I was.

Oct 29, 2014

Takatsu Jinja Torii

 I went through the torii and started up a long flight of stairs. Almost immediately I was greeted by a long series of torii through which the stairs passed.
 One of the red painted wooden torii had collapsed and someone had sawed the piece in short sections and piled them beside the stairs.
At this point the stairs became very steep and there was a wire railing along the side so you could use your arms to help with the climb. The stairs are interesting. Apparently when the shrine was first built, this was a simple dirt path. Then someone added stone stairs in the steep places, gradually filling all the spaces of that it was all stairs. The concrete was added to keep the stones from moving and to provide firm flat places around the stairs. Also concrete blocks were placed in front of some of the taller stairs, some embedded in the concrete and some just placed on top of it. At this point I was beginning to get a bit tired, having climbed well over a hundred stairs. I also noticed that along the sides of the trail there were huge boulders, something that had not been present at the lower levels.

Oct 28, 2014

Nearing Takatsu Jinja

 Takatsu Jinja, my main goal for the day, is high up in the hills on the north side of the bowl shaped valley that I was in. This valley is, except for the valleys cut by the Sakudaunade and Naka rivers, completely surrounded by high, steep-sided hills. Since I was not really sure where I was going, I followed the signs I found along the way and traced the route on my electronic map in my Nexus 7. The four blue kanji on the right side of the white sign read Taka-tsu-jin-ja. The four kanji on the left indicate that there are also remains of a fort somewhere in the same direction.
 I left the housing area and, still on the flat road, entered an area of woods and overgrown fields. At last I saw a torii but according to my map I was still along way from the shrine.
Another five minutes of walking and I reached the base of the hills and discovered more torii and some signs.

Oct 27, 2014

Stone Frogs?

 I noticed a stele on the other side of the stream, and after crossing on a little bridge, I discovered a sign next to it indicating that this was the direction to Takatsu Jinja, one of my goals for today.
 Along the way I found this little place. It is a regular home that has been converted into a meeting place for a local Shinto based sect.
I have no idea if they had any special significance but on both sides of the entrance there were little stone statues of frogs. Since this is still quite close to the stream, frogs may have a special meaning for this group.

Oct 26, 2014


 I was walking along a stream that had a very nice little park next to it. According to my map the stream was called Sakudaunade. I later found out that this is the only place name that has been in continuous use in referring to the same place since the Kojiki, the oldest history of Japan, was written in 712 BCE. The stream has had work done on it at various times over at least the last 2500 years.
 This stele was in the middle of a large rice paddy and I could not see a way to get to it, maybe there was one from the other side, so I did not walk over to it.
This covered bench was part of the park. It was very pleasant with a good view up and down the stream. I stopped here and ate the lunch that I had brought with me.

Oct 25, 2014

 On the temple grounds I found this statue of Shinran standing near the main building. While the temple grounds were well cared for, there were no gardens and nothing in particular to look at.
 Moving on, I found that I was back out to the main road again and there was an obviously religious structure next to the side walk and a large tree.
Inside the structure there was a gold plated Bodhisattva, at least I assume it is a Bodhisattva because it does not have the pile of hair on the top of the head which is a usual feature of a Buddha figure.

Oct 24, 2014

Walking in an area called Yamada

 This was some kind of Buddhist temple but I could not find a sign and there was nothing interesting on the grounds.
 This, believe it or not, is a vegetable store. Everything has a price tag on it, all very cheap. If you want to buy something, you just open the case and take what you want. There is an open white box on the top for depositing the money. You are invited to make change from the contents if you need to. You can apparently go knock on the door and get someone if there is not enough to make the proper change.
I found what appeared to be the entrance to a temple and it looked much more promising than the one in the first picture. The building on the right seem to be a meeting hall of some sort with the main building in the distance.

Oct 23, 2014

Moving on

 As I was leaving the shrine grounds, I passed this fire where someone was burning leaves, however, in the twenty minutes or so that I was present, I did not see a single person. The piles of wood in the background are probably for the bonfires that are a large part of any festival. The fires are used for purification, the main point of most Shinto ceremonies.
 Walking up into the higher ground beyond the temple I looked at the grave of Takahashi Zenzo(pronunciationd?). He was apparently one of the extremely important people in this area a century or two ago.
Coming down off the high ground I walked through a housing area and found a work crew tearing down a house, presumably in preparation for the construction of a new home.

Oct 21, 2014

More at the Jinja

 This picture shows the eaves where the paintings are hung. The main altar is through the doors on the right but there is another solid door inside so I could not see what was on the altar.
 This is a lion that is guarding the approach to the main building.
This is the view from the opposite side as shown in the top picture. Instead of looking inside the building, I looked toward the back. The door in the top picture is just out of sight on the right. The long wall encloses a hall that leads to a flight of stairs and another door which allows access to the actual altar in the separate, except for the hallway, building at the rear. This is a typical feature of many shrines. The altar is protected from the casual viewer and is only opened during ceremonies and festivals.

Oct 20, 2014

Fushimi Jinja

 This row of stela were between the buildings and the road. Two of these are uncharacteristically tall and thin. The road, by the way, is a main route up into the mountains. There is not much up there except dams and a few scattered small factories.
 This is the water source for purifying yourself before entering the grounds. It is completely overgrown and at first I did not notice it.
This picture was up under the eaves of the main building. It looks like a ship load of warriors on the left is attacking a group of woman on the right. The woman appears to have a protector warrior between them and the attackers. I suspect that he is the hero and somehow related to this shrine.

Oct 19, 2014

Arriving at Fushimi Jinja

 You can just see the torii at the entrance to Fushimi Jinja. It is opposite the car. This is the jinji that I could see from across the river while walking toward along the road on the other side of the river.
 Still on the sidewalk, I could see into the shrine grounds.
I ignored the sloped entrance for vehicles that appears in the first picture above and walked to the actual entrance. This is the view from the sidewalk.

Oct 18, 2014

An age old dam

I retraced my path back to the river, crossed the bridge again and start walking further south along the riverbank. I soon came to an adjustable dam with a fish run beside it. A week or so after taking this walk, I attended a meeting of the Senior Association and the speaker talked about the history of this area. She showed slides and maps so it was easy to know which of the places she talked about I had visited. For example, there has been a dam at this site for more than a thousand years.
 Notice the large log, a little below and to the right of the center of the picture. This is obviously left from the flooding that accompanied the last typhoon.
 This is the dam itself. The blue part on the top is moveable so the height of the water can be adjusted. When there is the potential for flooding the raise these moveable dams so that more water is held behind them, reducing the flooding downstream.

The statue on the right represents a local resident, one of the community leaders, who organized the rebuilding of the dam. The structure seems to house some of the machinery associated with the dam.

Oct 17, 2014

At the upper level

The altar of the upper shrine was rather unusual. It had a candle stand and two miniature torii in front of a large stone. Although I could not see it very well, the stone looked suspiciously like a phallic symbol.
Walking around to the back of the shrine, I discovered a place with a good view of the rice paddies in the valley.
After I finished exploring and started for the stairs to continue on my walk, I noticed that the main shrine building had some plants growing on the roof. The first thought that came to my mind was that the building needed a haircut.

Oct 15, 2014

More at the shrine

 As usual there were paintings up under the eaves. This one appears to show a warrior in armor killing a second warrior.
 I walked around to the back of the building and discovered a stairway up to another building
This building also contained an altar. It was obviously used since someone had placed fresh flower at the front of the altar.

Oct 14, 2014

Otogo Jinja

 At the top of the stairs I found this stone. I have no idea what the characters mean. I can't read the top one, the middle one means to speak humbly and the bottom one, if I am reading it correctly indicates a tower or pagoda.
 This is the altar and surprisingly it was open so I could see inside.
I assume that this is the young girl that is referred to in the shrine name. She seems to be holding Buddhist pray beads which brings to mind the reference to a pagoda in the first picture. However, it all remains a mystery at this point.

Oct 12, 2014

Locating the shrine

 This tree was fantastic. The horizontal branch was longer than the tallest trunk was tall. It has obviously been trimmed and cut back many times over its long lifetime.
 I located the shrine at the end of a side road that ran passed an old building. You can just see the torii at the end of the road.
Getting nearer, I could see the shrine building behind the torii. The name of the shrine is Otogo, which means young girl. There must be a story behind this. If I ever find out what it is, I will come back and then post the story here. There are people trying to document the local history but I have not yet become involved with them.

Oct 11, 2014

Along a back road

 These purple berries were growing beside the road. I have no idea what they are, but they were definitely pretty.
 The road curved away from the river, or I guess it would be more correct to say that that the river curved away from the road since the road was quite straight. There were rice paddies between the river and the road. As I looked across the paddies, I could see a shrine on the other side of the river. It was one of the places I planned to visit once I recrossed the river.
The walk along here was very pleasant. People and houses, but not many and not too close.