My Travels, Shiga-ken — March 14, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Travelling Adventures in Shigaraki, Shiga-ken!

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A protruding rock with Buddhist figures carved into them at the Takino Waki Magai Butsu (滝の脇魔崖仏) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

A protruding rock with Buddhist figures carved into them at the Takino Waki Magai Butsu (滝の脇魔崖仏) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

White day in Japan:

Today is “White Day” here in Japan and for those who do not know what this meaneth, well, it’s the opposite of Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day “Girls-Ladies and wife’s” give to us “men” chocolate. Cool right? Well, on White day we need to return that favor.For the occasion, I went with my wife to a resort in the Shigaraki-Kogen Plateau in Shiga Prefecture. We stayed in a log cabin at the Tarao Lake Villa Resort. It’s very cozy and part of the treat, is relaxing at their onsen and a shabu-shabu dinner with all the trimmings. It’s so quite and peaceful out there, haven on earth. I didn’t even feel the earth quake that struck in the middle of the night in Shikoku.

Hotoke sama Rock Carving:

A shabu-shabu dinner with all the trimmings.

A shabu-shabu dinner with all the trimmings.

The next day we wanted to drive around in the Shigaraki area before returning home. While driving on route 138 we came across this protruding rock with Buddhist figures carved into them.  It is known as the Takino Waki Magai Butsu (滝の脇魔崖仏). I saw it on the way up and wanted to take some pictures. A stone lantern covered with moss next to the rock sparked my interest. The carvings in the rock seem to date back to the  Kamakura period (鎌倉時代, 1185–1333). Outside of the Hotoke sama (the historical Gautama Buddha) carving, there are many other smaller Buddhist figures.

Seikoji Temple:

From here, continuing on route 138 we passed the Seikoji temple (清光寺). From the road this temple looks like a fortress set on a hill. A steep path leads up to the inner predicts of this buddhist temple. I don’t know much about this temple, it seems the main hall was recently rebuilt. A typical tanuki figure stood at the entrance of the priests quarters. After all, Shigaraki (信楽町) is famous for its tanuki pottery. Wiki says the following: “Shigaraki has been famous for pottery making since ancient times. The area is known for its clay beds, and locally mined clay is often used by local potters. Works produced here are known as

Steps leading up to the Seikoji (清光寺) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

Steps leading up to the Seikoji (清光寺) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

Shigaraki-yaki. Many local potters use wood fired anagama kilns. The kiln is one of ‘The Six Old Kilns’ in Japan. Although figures representing the Tanuki are a popular product included as Shigaraki ware, the kiln and local pottery tradition has a long history. Shigaraki served as Imperial capital for a few months in 745, before the transfer to Heijō-kyō due to a forest fire destroying the palace (Shigaraki Palace).” As you can see a lot of history in a small part of Japan.

Tenmangu Shrine:

Next to the Seikoji temple is a old Shinto shrine called Tenmangu (天満宮). The sando is very long and leads you to the main buildings that look aged. Tenmangu jinja seems to be a much older structure than the nearby Seikoji temple. There was nobody there and it started too snow, yes, winter is not over yet. Back to the car and on our way to find some lunch.

Crossing over the sacred bridge to enter the Tenmangu Jinja (天満宮) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

Crossing over the sacred bridge to enter the Tenmangu Jinja (天満宮) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

Chicken katsu:

We turned unto the Oumi Green Road (近江グリーンロード-R307) in Shigaraki and found this small restaurant. It looked like a log cabin and the interior was of natural wood. A nice place to have a typical Japanese lunch. I had chicken katsu and my wife took the yakuniku set. What is so nice about Japanese cuisine, is how it is presented in such an artistic way. A little bowl with miso soup, small saucers with pickles, a main dish and rice.
What a day, it’s so much fun driving through the country side, you need some wheels though. See all pictures here!

What is so nice about Japanese cuisine, is how it is presented in such an artistic way. A little bowl with miso soup, small saucers with pickles, a main dish and rice.

What is so nice about Japanese cuisine, is how it is presented in such an artistic way. A little bowl with miso soup, small saucers with pickles, a main dish and rice.

A tanuki surrounded by winter flowers at the Seikoji (清光寺) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

A tanuki surrounded by winter flowers at the Seikoji (清光寺) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

A side shrine (Massha-末社) of the Tenmangu Jinja (天満宮) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

A side shrine (Massha-末社) of the Tenmangu Jinja (天満宮) in Shigaraki-cho, Shiga!

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