Journal

Cultural attache continues to showcase his diplomacy and statesmanship

Attending more diplomatic missions today, the cultural attache continued to showcase his diplomacy and statesmanship. As you well know it is a requirement that one removes their shoes in the temples in Japan. Having done this, often there are little slip ons available if one wishes to move to areas requiring shoes to take photos. The attache having decided that a photo opportunity had emerged noted a little pair of white slip ons which he popped right on to his feet – commenting on the feminine qualities to myself and Mari as he prance and jaunted around the the dry landscape of Daitoku – ji. Having removed the shoes whilst under the gaze of a dainty Japanese lady one could not help but note that she then slipped the shoes on and appeared somewhat disgruntled.…

This little episode fol

Kyoto Festivals - Doll burning ceremony and poet lauriate

Beautiful Kyoto – Amazing spiritual temples and shrines – We had a beautiful guide Mari from the university take us to some amazing cultural events and she also took us to a beautiful traditional tea house for lunch – the entire day was incredible and will be held in our hearts for ever.…

Hokyo Ji – The treasured mirror temple – Founded about 1300

We attended one doll burning ceremony at the small temple of Hokyo Ji – a temple administered by female monks. This convent carried on the teachings of Keiaiji Temple the greatest of five convents that prospered in Kyoto before the Edo period but were abolished in the 16th century. It is a monzeki temple which means a member of the imperial family always held the position of head priest. The temple has many dolls in its possession including some

Cultural attache whirlwind tour of Takayama and a slight faux pas in Kanazawa

As is clearly revealed in the photo entries, the cultural attache has been incredibly busy of late, having arrived in Takayama just as its Autumn festival was taking full flight. An amazing sight to behold. At the conclusion of the procession I noticed a rather unusual building which seemed rather intriguing from its few revealing external features. When I suggested the cultural attache might be mildly interested in a closer inspection he was surprised to be greeted by the mondo bizarro barber, as we affectionately refer to him.…

It was on amazing barber salon with a collection of porcelain fish and theatre masks on the wall, one retro juke box belting out the Bee Gees and one very funky barber with some amazingly antiquated hairdressing equipment. There were strange mannequins and scu

Cultural attache - King of Kabuki and friend of the warrior

Having sashimied and sushied his way around Shikoku, the cultural attache completes the circuit of Shikoku following a whirlwind tour that concluded with quick trip to Uchiko and Ozu and a lovely soak in the Dogo Onsen.…

Although the 88 temple circuit was not completed, the cultural attache continued on his journey of enlightenment discovering the joy in a little bottle of aloe vera juice (Brand name – pocket juicer stand) – he is totally addicted to the fresh fluid that contains whole chunks of aloe plant – now a daily ritual.

The 1000ml can of beer when it can be located is often on the menu.

Plenty of Pocari sweat to replenish the electrolytes after a long day in the heat and the odd drop of Calpis for vitamin supplement.

The circuit complete we now find ourselves back on Western Honshu

Banraku Puppet Theatre, Kochi Temples and Pacific Ocean

Yesterday before we left Tokushima we went to the puppet theatre in Bando.…

Awa Jarobe House – Banraku Puppet Theatre

We saw a performance of “Awa Ningyo Jorui” at this quaint little puppet theatre – based in an old home of Bando Jarobei – on who’s life one of the puppet characters is based. There is also a beautiful museum with historical documents and mechanical wooden puppets – they are truly amazing and there facial expressions are so realistic when they are in action.

We then took a scenic train trip to our next destination Kochi, with the train snaking its way through the mountainous countryside with sea views glimpsed at different intervals.

Tosa Jinga (Temple)

A beautiful calm sanctuary tranquil and peaceful – firecracker prayer boards – many shrines and toriis in this complex. S

Historical towns, washi paper and Ninja Gleg attains Nirvana

This morning we caught train and bus to Udatsu (Wakimachi) in the misty Japanese rain – the scenery was spectacular with low clouds hovering around the mountains – peaks enveloped by the rolling white clouds. The historical townscape is charming, originally the home to many wealthy merchants these rows of fine classic houses have been preserved and maintain the architectural heritage of the era. The town of Wakimachi was an indigo dying centre – a traditional craft of Japan. There were few people around and the misty rain has added a melancholy touch to the photography.…

We then caught a bus and train and hiked a little while though charming scenery to the Awa handmade paper factory – it was devine and the techniques outstandingly labour intensive – but the end product is classic simpli

The cultural attache feeling sushied out but a true blue pilgrim

Today we trekked over 5 km to the following 3 temples which mark the beginning of the 88 temple pilgrimage they are in the vicinity of where we are staying…

1 Ryōzenji – Naruto Tokushima
2 Gokurakuji – Naruto Tokushima
3 Konsenji – Itano Tokushima

Temple No 1 on the pilgrimage was illuminated with the lamps, candles and the aroma of incense and the chanting of the pilgrims. People were providing the Buddha with offerings of food and money. It was amazing to see the rituals underway.

Just a little lesson in the history so that you understand the background – The 88 Temple Pilgrimage is Japan’s most famous pilgrimage route and the circuit loops around the entire island of Shikoku through 88 temples. Many of the temples are said to have been founded or restored by the monk and scholar Kūkai

Zen and the art of Soy Sauce Icecream (Kothira- san)

Today we headed off to Mount Kompira-san and its Kotohira-gu Shrine 745 steps to reach the top and it was a magnificent sight to behold. Despite the challenge of the long climb, the heat and humidity was difficult, there were abundant sights to see along the way – very Zen…

The shrine has been the spiritual guardian of seafarers and fisherman for centuries and is believed to bestow good luck on them if you pray to the spirit.

The omamori (good luck charms) ema boards (featured in the photos) are seen throughout the shrines of Japan – each temple has very specific wooden boards with various designs (in this case several designs were available including a sea vessel – the prayer or wish is then written on the board and it is hung with all the other boards.

The Shinto is Japan’s oldest relig

Kothira- san and Soy Sauce Icecream

Pilgrimage destination of Mount Kompira-san and its Kotohira-gu Shrine. There is an inner shrine accessible via 1,368 stone steps. The protector god of sailors is here.…

The Kotohira-gu Shrine is located halfway up Mt. Zozu-san with the altitude of 521 meters in the western Kagawa. It is called Kompira-san and enshrines the protector deity for seafarers, he also protects people for health and against evils and has been worshiped for many centuries.

In the Muromachi Period in the 14th century, pilgrimage to Kompira became very fashionable and the flow of worshipers from all over Japan never ceases even today.

The approach way has 785 stone steps to the Main Sanctuary halfway up Mt. Zozu-san, and 1,368 stone steps to the Inner Shrine. When you stand in front of the Main Sanctuary, you are r

Yashima Temple, Ritsurin-Koen Garden, Koi Carp and Pachinco

Yashimaji Temple (Yashima) is the 84th of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage – after a breathtaking bus ride up a steep cliff side we arrived to the see all these amazing pilgrims praying and worshiping – The air was heavy with incense and votive candles burning. It was atmospheric and hypnotic listening to the rise and fall of the chanting with the incense whirling through the air burning in such large amounts burning in the huge brass urns.…

The two pilgrim ladies were truly beautiful spiritual people – they were chatting to us in half English half Japanese and they gave us lovely little handmade gifts to take around the temples with us and tie to the different shrines.

The little badger is a dearly loved and revered god here in Japan and he brings on good luck for families and restaurant

Check out the form of Australia's cultural attache - Ninja Gleg

The cultural attache has out done Sir Les Patterson this time.…

After the long journey from Ise penninsula to Shikoku we were relaxing in a cruisy little Japanese restaurant and Ninja Gleg noticed that some people appeared to be leaving their side orders of snow peas uneaten. He announced that he was going to check them out once the other patrons left (as we were the only ones remaining) – I thought he was kidding but as I took a mouthful of noodles he turned, as discretely as he possibly could and pinched a pea casing from the next tables left overs, whacked in his gob, pulled a face and spat it out. I all but choked on my noodles and suggested that perhaps they had already been tried and that the aim was to strip the pod of the pea – hence why there were whole bowls of them left behind

Pearl fishers to Ninja

Japan is such an amazing eclectic place. We have spent the last 2 days in Ise, travelled down to Toba and the Mikimoto Pearl Island and saw the beautiful pearl fisher women – elegant, mysterious and beautiful.…

Then we took a brief sojourn to the wedded rocks (Meoto Iwa) an awesome pair of rocks situated in the ocean – they represent the gods Izanami and Izangai they are said to be the parent gods of Japan and are connected by sacred rope.

Iga Ueno – home of the Ninja – check it out even the toilets are sign posted with the Ninja

We had a look at the Iga Ninja museum – fascinating clan farmhouse – headquarters of the Ninja and learnt more about the art of stealth and their sophisticated means of assassination – Stay tuned for more Ninja photos – I am a big fan of the Ninja and an amazingl

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