Demon Shrine?

“A what?” was my reaction when Ms. A mentioned it to me.

Well, it’s time to investigate it.

Sorry to disappoint, but no it’s not a Shrine for demons. It’s a lion-shaped stage of Yasaka Shrine.
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Tada !!!.

This is called Shishi-Den or a Lion-Shaped Stage which is found in Namba Yasaka Shrine.

This stage was completed in 1974. It is believed that the lion eats everyone’s suffering with it’s big mouth and brings happiness to people. These days, it is also believe that the lion attracts success with its big mouth and therefore it is popular among students studying for entrance exam, athletes and business people.

The mouth serves as the stage, while the nose is the speaker and eyes are the lights.

The local deity protecting the area: Susanoo-no-Mikoto is believed to enshrined inside the mouth.

So if ever you get to visit Namba in Osaka, take a small detour to Yasaka Shrine and checkout Shishi-Den.

 

The Rock Ship Shrine?

This was one the amazing finds during my hike yesterday, which will be in another post.

Iwafune Jinja (磐船神社) is located in Katano City, Osaka Prefecture just bordering Osaka and Nara.

Why Rock Ship? The Kanji Iwa(磐) means rock or a big boulder of rock and Fune(船) means ship or boat thus the title.  The idea came when RT, our guide yesterday, explained to me that it was believed that these big boulder of rocks where the ship in which the gods used to get to earth.

A little google and I found the official homepage for this place. [Japanese][English]

The Japanese site contains a more details description, unfortunately it’s going to take me a few days to do a translation of it. The English site contains some basic information which will give you some idea how old this place is.
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The name at the gate of the Shrine

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The front shine. Notice the Big boulder of rock in the back of it? It is believed that the god(神) lives in this rock,

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Fudoh-Mouoh, considered to be one of the divine beings in Buddhism and this image was carved in the stone in Dec 1545, more than 400 years of history.

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Can you see the frog on top of the Rock? It’s supposed to be a holy creature, a guardian perhaps?

The Shrine is small but full of history. We were planning to go done and explore underneath the boulders but unfortunately it has been raining these past days and the rocks are slippery so for safety reason, they have closed it. So now I have another reason to go back there soon.

Going into the shrine is free but if you plan to go down under the rocks, you need to pay a small fee.

How to get there by Train:

By Keihan Train: Take the Keihan Train to Kisaichi Station(私市) , and get on the Keihan Bus and get off at Iwafune Jinja Mae. This bus only operates on the weekends(Sat and Sun) only.

By Kintetsu Line: Get off at Ikoma Station and Take the bus bound for Kitadahara(北田原) and get off at the last stop from there it’s about 10 minutes walk to the shrine.

If you are going by Car you can take a look at this map.

Mt. Tomi(鳥見山) to Lake Murou(室生湖)

Long time no hear/read. Been busy with my so called Life 🙂

Anyways, I join this hike on my last day of Golden Week Vacation here in Osaka. A lot of first and I saw another side of Nara that I really like. A bit far from where I am currently located but definitely worth the trip.

Our group met in Hasedara Station, which is about 1.5 hours train ride for me.

Sign post for Hasedera in Nara
The tall stone saying Hasedera Temple , just outside Hasedera Station.

I have never heard of Hasedera Temple before so I was really happy to find this place.
The group arrived on time and so our hike began. We are supposed to follow one of the Tokai Nature Trail in Nara Prefecture.

We had a short stop at the Yoki Tenma Jinja, since our organizer have this fascination with it.

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A small shrine near stairs with small cute foxes(Inari) inside.


Let’s start the walk up to the Shrine.

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The moss covered stairs going up. On our way up, we met some university students busily sketching the scenery. I envy them since I can’t draw a thing.


The Cow. If you ever been to Tenmangu Shrine, you will notice that there is always a Cow sculpture/statue inside which is a familiar god in Tenmangu Shrines.

After our short visit, we proceed with our hike. There was not much around Hasedera Station but as we were approaching the main Temple, there peony beautiful blooming at the side of the street, vendors giving us free taste of their products. I have never heard of Hasedera so I have never visited this place. A few weeks after this hike, I was reading the book called “The Pillow Book” that I realized the historical importance of this place. Of course entering the Temple is not free and unfortunately, we still have a long way to go so I will have to go back there soon.

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The Front Gate of Hasedera.

After we left Hasedera, we were following the highway and a few minutes later we found our marker.
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Our next stop is Hase Dam.

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Front View of Hase Dam.

As we were heading back to the main road. We noticed this very interesting sign.
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Looks like Guns are not allowed.

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It was beautiful. The peacefulness of it all.

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View from the top of the Dam.

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Forward march. Yup we are crossing this bridge.

More walking along the highway and we found another marker leading to the mountains.

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Watch out for your head.

It was a steep climb and we are supposed to find Takatsuka Castle on top but unfortunately this is what was left of the castle.
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Suffice it to say, we did not get to see a castle or any of its ruins.

We also found some interesting plants along the way.
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The red mushroom. Any idea the name of this mushroom?


It looks like a pitcher plant.

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Wee!! another sign that we are almost to the top of the mountain.

We took a short, 1 hour break , for lunch and chatted a good while. Then we checked out the view. It was amazing.


I’m not sure if this is Nara Prefecture or Mie Prefecture already. But it looks really nice.


A Panoramic Shot.

The Azaleas were also blooming so it was really beautiful up there.

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I like this shot of the Photographer seriously taking some pictures surrounded by this beautiful foliage.


And another one.

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A close up with the Azaleas.

A few minutes walk we found another place where we can see more of the view.
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one more 🙂


And one more.

We wanted to stay there and just enjoy the view, but we still have a very long way to go till we reach our final destination.

We found several interesting areas including this very small waterfall.


Rice fields that looks like a small version of the Banaue Rice Terraces

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It looks like that the farmers just started planting rice in this area.


Farmers busy planting. I hope you have a great harvest soon.

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I love this view.

Our next goal was to look for the Grave site of Yamabe Akihito a poet during Nara Period and a few hours later we found it.

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The lone grave of Yamabe Akahito(山辺赤人)

Our next goal was to reach Murou Dam which according to the map was not that far, but next marker we found said that Lake Murou is 8KM away and the Dam is still a few km away from that.

We thought that there was a mistake with the marker but we thought wrong.

When we got out of the mountain and was going to the lake it was already after 4pm, the sun was already starting to set.

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Part of the Lake closer to the highway. We are just entering the Lake.


It was really beautiful.


So peaceful.


Akahito’s Bridge.

We decided to check gps how far is the Dam, and it looks like it was still a good 5-6 KM away and unfortunately nobody was carrying flashlight or what not. All of us still have classes and work to do the next day. So we all decided to take the shortest route to the next station following the side of the Lake.

We found some wild deer which scampered away as soon as they caught our smell. All we could see where the white spots near the butt :).

It was a nice walk beside the lake, dirt road, smell of summer breeze , earth and forest all together. When we finally got out and back to the main road , this is what greeted us.

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We still have a 2 Km to walk till we get to the train station but we got there safely and catch our train. We were all tired, but I was very satisfied to join see this amazing places.

till the next adventure:)

Rainy at Fushimi Inari Taisha

Inari or Inari Okami is a Japanese god of foxes and Fushimi Inari Taisha(伏見稲荷大社) located at the South part of Kyoto is the head shrine of Inari.

If you have watched Memoirs of the Geisha, where young Sayuri was running among red gates then you have seen a glimpse of Fushimi Inari Taisha.

I remember the first time I visited the place, years ago I was in awe of the gates that are place all the way to the top of the mountain. We got there a little before 7pm so it was a very interesting experience. I think the main temple was already close but the way to the mountain was not since there are people living on top of it. It was dark but we made it safely to the top and the night view of Kyoto was beautiful.

Early this month I joined a group of amazing people to take a walk starting from the Fushimi Inari Taisha to Chushojima. There was big snow storm the night before and then the next day, it rained and snow so it was really cold but it did not stop us.

The whole group in front of Inari Taisha. Can you find me?

Fushimi Inari Taisha
Entering the Shrine Vicinity. The roof is still covered in snow.

Fox Statue @ Fushimi Inari Taisha
The Fox Guarding the  Main Shrine. No taking of picture of the Main Shrine.

The Fox @ Fushimi Inari Taisha
The other Fox and this one is holding a stalk of golden rice grain.

Gates @ Fushimi Inari Taisha
The gates. Choose which way to go. Can you find Sayurin?

Gates @ Fushimi Inari Taisha Kyoto
The Side. It’s a long way.

Gates and a girl in Kimono @ Fushimi Inari Taisha
A girl in Kimono.

Wet gates @ Fushimi Inari Taisha
Water Dripping.

There are several ways to go there. If you are coming from Kyoto, Take JR Nara Line and stop at Inari Station. From Kyobashi or Yodoyabashi Station in Osaka you can take Keihan line bound for Demachiyanagi and stop at Fushimi Inari Station. There is also a bus from JR Kyoto Station but it leaves every hour only, a bit inconvenient so taking the train is the best way to go.

If you visit this place, try to walk all the way to the top of the mountain and check out the view of Kyoto City.

Till the next Kyoto adventure.

Osaka Autumn 2013 : Nozaki

I have featured Nozaki a few times in this blog and I am going to add another one :).

It was just one of those Saturday where you could either stay at home or enjoy a good walk in the cold, I choose the latter. Weather said it was going to be a sunny day but as soon I walked outside these clouds greeted me.

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Definitely not sunny. I had my little umbrella with me so I was not deter and continued on. I was glad I did. These were some of the views and colors that greeted me when I reached Nozaki Kannon.

Maple Tree @ Nozaki Temple

The big maple tree at the entrance of the Temple.

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple

Near the entrance to the hiking trail at the back of the temple.

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple
Some close up shot with the iPhone 4S camera.

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple
More.

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple
Located at the back of the temple. There are some benches on the end where you could enjoy the view of Daito City and of the Osaka City too.

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple

A View from where I was seating.

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The sun has decided to grace us with her presence 🙂

Autumn @ Nozaki Temple
The bell at the side of the temple.

It did not rain at all while I was there. It was a nice walk and an afternoon well spent enjoying the colors of nature.