Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Oga, Akagami, Goshado, Namagahe

From the former lake, formerly know as Hachirogata we went to the coast of Oga Peninsula, On the map below you can see the former lake surrounded by a thin blue line (canal) with roads that are unusually straight for Japan. 
Monzen, a small fishing village on the southern coast of Oga

On the sign here you can see in the bottom left series of maps that Oga used to be an island, when sea levels were higher. The explanation that the road was built by the Self Defence Force in 1959 highlights how relatively isolated the areas is. 

Namahage statue

Namahage are demons,  oni in Japanese  (but perhaps originally gods) from Oga folklore. In Oga folklore the namahage comes to people's homes looking for naughty children who need to be scared into being good.  It's not just a myth though, appointed people really do dress up as namahage and come to terrorize children... It recently made it to the world heritage culture list.... I guess child protection agencies haven't made it to UNESCO...  Perhaps it's not surprising that it's a rapidly depopulating area...  Namahage, according to at least one version of their history came to Oga from China during the Han dynasty (2000 years ago or so). There are similar kinds of traditions in other Japan Sea towns which would have had historical contact with Chinese trade, so the theory seems plausible
Looking down from Chorakuji Temple 
Looking down from Choraku-ji

I forgot to note what this's at the entrance of the walking path to Goshado

   . The forest on the way to Akagami Jinja's Goshado.

According to a local who I was talking to there,Akagami jinja (shrine) came into being during the Meiji era when the pressure was put on temples to become sites for Shinto worship. The Tendai temple, now a Shingon temple, became a shrine.  I should have asked more specifics about the mechanics of  this... Anyway, Akagami, which translates as red god/s, was the name of the mountain and the temple became a shrine as well.

Torii on the way to Goshado

The path up to Goshado.  There are apparently 999 steps to Goshado... I guess passive aggression got the better of someone and they left out the last step.

Spring foliage


Andrew Wright said...

Still need to catch that branch line to Oga as part of my West coast JR travels. Looks interesting.

Will be doing the Gono Line again later this month, but with the family, so no slow detours likely.

Ponkan Chan said...

Oooh !! Exciting! The train is so irregular though... I liked Fukaura, but it's better as a 2 hour stop not a 6 hour stop...
If you're in Tokyo with time and the fam. is up for dinner, let me know. No pressure, and no need to decide now.

Andrew Wright said...

Going to splurge and stay a night at Furofushi Onsen. Hoping to also see Juniko. I've realised there's a lot in Tohoku I want to see but there is less enthusiasm for small towns from the other two. Apart from one night in Aomori the rest will be Tokyo and day trips. Haven't bothered planning too much. It would be nice to catch up again.