Entries in Shinto shrines (4)


Yasukuni, it ain't

During a long run in an unfamiliar corner of town this morning, I came upon a broad set of stone steps, flanked on either side by massive stone lanterns.

Thinking it was the entrance to a shrine, I climbed up the steps. To my surprise, I found a number of monuments dedicated to those who had died in modern Japan's wars and foreign engagements from the overthrow of the shogun and restoration of the Emperor to power, known as the Meiji Restoration (1886), to the Russo-Japan War (1904/5), the Manchurian Incident (1931), and on to the Pacific War which ended 72 years ago this summer. This sombre memorial to Japan's militaristic past is not listed on the map, nor were there any signs outside of the premises indicating what awaited visitors at the top of the stairs.




I will return in the summer during the Bon Festival to see if there are any special ceremonies taking place, like those which occur every year at Gokoku Jinja.


For more on "Tani Park", go here.


Torikai Shrine




   Barbed wire outside a shichi-ya (質屋, pawnshop) in Imaizumi.

   Every time I pass this pawnbroker I am reminded of a student of mine whose parents turned a boyfriend of hers down when he asked them for their daughter's hand in marriage. The boyfriend's family, which ran a pawnshop, stank of underworld connections and my father's student, a policeman no less, couldn't stomach the idea of his own family getting tangled up with them. 

   Disappointed, she eventually acquiesced and less than a year later she married a systems engineer.

   An ivy-covered house in Kego. Makes you wonder (at least it does for me) whether the house would remain standing if all the ivy were removed.

   The entrance to Daichôji, a small Buddhist temple in Maizuru.

   The rusty hook and shutter of a shop in Kego.

   The rainspout of an old house in Kego.

   A small shrine at the end of a back alley in the rundown neighborhood of Jigyô.


Walkabout - Jigyô

   There is an urban legend of sorts regarding the Jigyô (地行) neighborhood which claims that the area was in olden times a killing field of sorts, a place where the condemned went to die. The name, people will tell you, actually means go to hell (獄にく, jigoku ni iku) and because so many people were executed there it is to this day haunted. 

   I don't know if there's any truth to that story. There is frankly so much conflicting information about where executions were conducted  in the city during the Edo Period that you can pretty much be guaranteed to bump into ghosts no matter where you happen to venture. That said, considering how undeveloped Jigyô is compared to the neighborhoods around it, there must be enough people who still believe in the legend to avoid this otherwise nice piece of real estate.

   The first several shots are of Torikai Hachiman-gû, an unassuming shrine located in Imagawa, just across the street from Jigyô. One of the main attractions of this area (incl. neighboring Tôjin Machi), for me at least, is the large number of shrines and temples, a testament to how old this part of Fukuoka City is.  


On the grounds of Torikai Hachimangû, you'll find a small shrine dedicated to Ebisu (恵比寿). The patron god of fishermen and good luck, as well as the guardian of the health of small children, he is one of my favorites of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神, Shichifukujin). Ebisu is often paired with Daikokuten, another of the Seven Gods. You can find displays of the two patrons in small shops and pubs throughout Japan. 

 Ring the bell and make a wish.

From the shrine I walked over to Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome where an event featuring local spirits (shôchû and awamori) was being held (See Kampai section). The event itself wasn't something of a disappointment, but being able to wander around the baseball field and see the Dome as the players see it made it worth the visit.

On my way home, I cut through the neighborhood of Tôjin Machi (唐人町). The origin of the area's name (lit. Chinaman's Town) is not clear, but according to the Chikuzen no Kunizoku Fûdoki (筑前国続風土記) the area was once home to residents from Goryeo (modern day Korea) and ships from China would lay anchor there.

I could be wrong, but I believe this temple and charnel house (pagoda) behind it is called Daiteidaien-ji (大悌大園寺). Business seems to be booming. 


Notes: 文献上に始めて登場するのは、1627年(寛永4年)に成立した『筑前筑後肥前肥後探索書』である。江戸時代には唐津街道に沿って町家が立ち並び、これが後の唐人町商店街に発展したと考えられている。1784年(天明4年)には、福岡藩藩校として亀井南冥館長による西学問所「甘棠館」が設立された。しかし、1792年(寛政4年)10月に商家から出火した火災で炎上。そのまま廃校となり、生徒は東学問所修猷館に編入され、その後も再建されることは無かった。