Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snow in Najima

We have been hit by a Siberian cold front this week that has left the city cold and miserable! This morning it was snowing buckets - a rare occurrence here - and so I decided to abandon my plans to ride into campus. Instead I grabbed my camera and went for a walk around Najima, the "town" that we now live in.

There are two hills in Najima that would have dominated the area a hundred years ago. Today you could drive through and never even realize the two hills were there since they've been hidden behind all the apartment buildings and elevated highways that dominate the scenery today. Nonetheless, the hills still exist.

We live on one of these hills. Our hill is basically just covered with houses and trees and does not have anything of historical interest on it (to the best of my knowledge it doesn't even have a name, at least not one that appears on the maps).

The other hill, which is just across the street from ours, has a long history however. In the 9th century a shrine was dedicated to Benzaiten, the goddess of fortune, on top of that hill. In the 16th century a castle was built next to the site of the shrine by the feudal lord who ruled this realm, though it was only used for a few years before Fukuoka castle became the region's main castle.

There isn't much left of the castle today (though you can see the castle's layout), but the hill still has a pretty big shrine on it.

There are a few ways to approach the shrine, today I chose the west entrance. You go up some stairs and then go down this long path to the tori:
The shrine entrance:
The shrine has a pair of guardian dogs (shi shi):
And some cute red lanterns:
And a little stone pagoda:

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