Hirose-taisha is a Shinto shrine that worships the God Inari, one of some 32,000 spread throughout Japan. The most famous being the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.
Crossing this bridge will cleanse away all sins and filth of the devotee, before approaching the gods. The bridge is shaped to resemble a rainbow, since it is connected to the terrestrial world of humans and the celestial world of gods.
After descending from the bridge, you enter a grove of trees and are greeted by this Sessha, or auxiliary shrine. Looking to your left at this junction, you will see . . . .
. . . . the distinct vermilion-colored Torii, heralding the entrance to the main complex. This is a Ryobu style torii, with it's four supporting legs.
Before passing through the torii, you will need to perform your ceremonial purification rite at the Chozuya before proceeding.
As you enter the inner complex you will see all the familiar structures associated with a shinto shrine. To the left, in the above image, engulfed by the sakura trees, is the Haiden, or hall of worship.
In the center of the courtyard is this tree surrounded by O-mikuji. After making a small offering, the devotee will be presented with one of these slips of paper where, after reading their fortune (hopefully good), is then tied to a piece-of-string.
To the left of the torii, as you enter the complex, is the Shamusho, or the shrine's administration office. Here one can purchase a range of shinto charms and texts.
In another corner is this impressive structure used for hanging your Ema, or small wooden plaques. On these, worshippers write their prayers or wishes.
Before signing-off, let me not forget to invite you to view the video of Hirosa-taisha. Enjoy.
I discovered Kouhou-ji as I was descending down the Zushidani Hiking Course - a 2.5km path that commences it's course from the base of Ikomayama (the Ikoma-sanke Hiking Course) and finishing at/near the Ishikiri Station.
The beginning of the path is a little steep but, as it is mostly constructed out of concrete steps, it shouldn't be a problem. About 500-meters down you are greeted with this sight - a concrete Torii, signifying the entrance to the complex.
Which brings me to the history of Kouhou-ji. A plaque, situated just outside the temple entrance, explains that a temple was established here during Emperor Jomei's reign (629 - 641), but the present temple was constructed in 1360. During the reign of Empress Genmei (707 - 715) a Buddhist Priest by the name of Gyoki (668 - 749) carved a Thousand Armed Kannon from a sandalwood tree which became the main Deity of the temple.
During the Eiroku Era (1558 - 1570) the temple was restored after being destroyed during the Onin War (1467 - 1477), the second such incident and, since 1916, the temple has gone through several more restorations.
The day I visited the temple it was snowing - Japan at the time was in the middle of an unstable, cold weather pattern, and the weather was acting very strange, to say the least - which added to the atmosphere of the area.
As you exit the temple grounds to continue on down the 'course - turning right as you exit the main gate - you will pass this set of Jizo statues; protector of travelers, women & children. These are a favorite of mine and I come-across them in some of the most isolated of places.
And you will come-across many more of them, as you make your way down the course.
I visited Mitsukue-jinja while out hiking in the Shijonawate City area. The path I was on took me through to the Midori-no Bunkoen Park and onto Ikomayama. The shrine borders on the urban and rural area of the city.
From the station, where I alight my train, I had to weave my way through some very narrow lanes (if you are hiking this course, the route is well signposted), passing the entrance to Shijonawate-jinja on my way.
After ascending the flight of steps, and passing through the first of two Torii, you arrive at the Chozuya. Once performing the purification ritual, you then pass through the second Torii.
Unfortunately I don't have any information regarding Mitsukue-jinja but, a website I stumble-across hinted that it may have been constructed during the Heian Period.
It's not an enormous complex, nor does it stand out from any other of the small shrines I have frequented on my travels but, like in this image on the left, of a concrete Toro, it's quaint, and is sited in an area where there is a network of hiking tracks. If you are planning on hiking in this area, here is a link to the course I did.
I first visited this complex back in 2003 when, along with my wife and family, was hiking through the nearby Hoshida Park, and we stumbled-across this shrine by accident. Since that day I have frequented this site many times whenever I have been passing-through the area. There is something about this shrine that compels me to stop. It's not a huge complex. It's not isolated (it lies just off National Highway Route-163).
Maybe it's the compact manner in which the buildings occupy the site. As-soon-as you enter the grounds, via the Torii, you can't help but notice how everything is within close proximity and the visitor doesn't have to wander too far to get from one site to another. Throughout the grounds are figurines of horses; this being the Year of the Horse, which is one of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
My first stop is the Chozuya, where I perform my purification ritual before continuing my visit.
One can't help notice, as they tour the complex, how each construction is either built into, or against a boulder; the whole complex is surrounded by boulders and, with the sound of the running stream through the site, all adds to the beauty of Iwafune-jinja. At the rear of the complex is a Grotto and, for a small fee, one can take a wonder through the rocky outcrop.
And what would a shrine be without it's religious icons, in this instance Sekibutsu? Carvings like this one would expect to see, or be near, a Buddhist Temple: The general blueprint of a Shinto Shrine is Buddhism in origin.
It appears that every deity of Shintoism is represented here. Like this Sessha, dedicated to the Inari Okami. Unfortunately I am unable to provide any information regarding Iwafune-jinja. Maybe a return visit will be on the cards and, after I may be able to offer some insight into this quaint wee complex..
If you are planning on visiting Iwafune-jinja, why not include it in your visit to the nearby park. With views like this, it makes for a great day.
Located at the base of Mt Shigisan (437m), Chogosonshi-ji (Map Location) was founded by Prince Shotoku (572-622), an important politician during the Asuka Period (538-710). He was the son of Emperor Yomei (518-587) and was deeply devoted to Buddhism. The history of the Main Hall is a bit vague. It is believed the main hall was reconstructed in 1592 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, or by his son, Hideyori in 1601. The Hall was completed in 1746 but was destroyed again by fire in 1951 and rebuilt in 1958.
I arrived at the complex after a grueling hike up a path that just seemed to go on-and-on but, once I stepped onto the temple grounds, the hard graft was well worth the effort.
As I approached the complex, I was greeted by this unusual monument and, as I wondered the many walkways throughout the temple, I encountered more statues of tigers; the temple is related to the tiger of the Chinese Zodiac, which is used for calender, time and direction.
As you enter the temple complex you are greeted with many icons related to Shintoism, like the concrete Torii & Toro. This is quite common at a Buddhist Temple and is known as Chinjusha, or a Tutelary Shrine that is a patron spirit that protects a given area.
After passing through the main entrance, you then encounter this character (the yellow & black-striped figure in the foreground) and your first sight of the Hondo, or the Main Hall. The tiger, Fukutora, is the largest paper-machet tiger in the world.
The Main Hall stands watch over the entire complex and is am impressive sight, regardless of the time of year. But, if the view from down here is impressive, you will be blown-away with the view from the veranda. . . . .
. . . . like in this image on the left. In the distance is another temple that makes-up Chogosonshi-ji. At this point I suggest you don't be in a hurry, spend time taking-in the scenery and the serenity of your surroundings.
Throughout the grounds are many photo-opportunities, as I was to discover. If you have the time, and energy, follow the concrete signs up the hill, behind one of the temples, to an avenue of vermilion-colored torii. It's quite a steep walk, but well worth your time.
I came here on foot, as part of a days hiking trip and, because of my itinerary, I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to. But I am already planning my return. I came here via the Kintetsu Shigisanshita Station but, if you want to take the more leisurely route, you can drive or travel by bus.
Now, the all important video. Hopefully this will go some way to convincing you to visit Chogosonshi-ji Temple.
Most of the images in this post were taken by Yours Truly. I would like to acknowledge the use of other images; Shigisan Chogosonshi-ji and Landscapememory.
In a recent post, I shared with you my visit to the Shimonobo Eisho-ji Temple. Earlier in the day, as part of a day hike I was doing, I stumbled-upon another religious complex - Hiyoshi-jinja.
This meant one thing, the Torii was the entrance to a Shinto Shrine. But it wasn't just any Shinto Shrine, it was an Inari Shrine. This is just one of the 32,000 of it's type in Japan, making-up one-third of all Shinto Shrines. These complexes are recognized by the avenue of vermilion colored Torii marking the entrance and the Kitsune (Fox) standing guard at the shrine.
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to;
To get a better idea how I felt, this video should go some way to sharing that experience, and this map should go some way to show you how isolated Hiyoshi-jinja is and how to get there.
So, before I sign-off, I want to say it has been a pleasure to share this with you and add a BIG thank-you for reading this post. Until next time -
It's amazing what one happens across when out hiking. Take Shimonobo Eisho-ji for example. I was hiking in the Tenri City area of Nara Prefecture recently, when the path (The Nanamagari Path) I was following, passed an interesting set of religious Icons (image below).
Stopping to take a photo, I soon noticed a track branching-off behind the set of Stone Pagodas that disappeared into a clump of trees, about 100-meters away. My curiosity pricked, I decided to check-out what was hidden amongst the forest.
After ascending the rock-paved steps, and passing under an 800-year old Japanese Cedar, was the Shimonobo Eisho-ji Temple. Not the original, obviously. The original temple was established here in the year 712AD by the Japanese Buddhist Monk known simply as Roben . Roben was the clerical founder of Todai-ji Temple in Nara City.
What really impressed me, when I discovered when Shimonobo Eishi-ji was established, was, when compared to my country (Aotearoa), this complex would have been some 900-years old when Aotearoa was first inhabited.
So, with the help of the guys at "weebly", I shall now add a slide-show of my images of -
Shimonobo Eisho-ji Temple.
Now, if my images don't give you an idea how I felt when experiencing this complex, I shall let this video do the talking.
Oops, I nearly forgot to show you where Shimonobo Eisho-ji is located. And, to do that, I shall let the guys at "Google Maps" show you.
If you are interested in experiencing this complex, and the surrounding district, this is a detailed map of the course I took.
So, until next time, this is me, "The Outdoorholic", saying kanpai.