Usa Jingu: the original Hachiman shrine

There are more than 40,000 shrines across Japan that are specifically dedicated to Hachiman, the guardian god of warriors. Usa Jingu in northern Oita Prefecture is widely regarded as the oldest such shrine, with all the rest mere satellites of this parent. Hachiman is a posthumous deification of the 15th Japanese emperor, Ojin (201-312). There … Continue reading Usa Jingu: the original Hachiman shrine

Rakan-ji: Buddhist ascetism amid dramatic scenery, yet a sort-of hole in the wall

Not long ago, we were driving in north-central Oita on the island of Kyushu when we spotted a mountain with a hole it.  Needless to say, such a phenomenon must be explored!  So we did. We learned that the top of this mountain was historically a hermitage for the practice Buddhist asceticism--reputed to have been … Continue reading Rakan-ji: Buddhist ascetism amid dramatic scenery, yet a sort-of hole in the wall