The Blue Dragon of Kiyomizu-dera

Visitors to Kiyomizu-dera (a Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan) may notice a large dragon statue standing guard in front of the temple – specifically, at the base of the stairs leading up to the temple’s West Gate and Three-Story Pagoda.   The blue dragon, or seiryuu, is honored at Kiyomizu-dera; at special ceremonies in March, April, and September, special prayers are said and the dragon’s image is carried around the temple (in a parade and worship event known as Seiryuue). Although known as a goddess of compassion, Kannon is also considered a strong protector of the weak (especially children) and

Read more

The Dragon Shrine on Japan’s Mt. Inari

One of my favorite aspects of Japan, and Japanese culture, is the constant possibility of discovering something unexpected. If you keep your eyes (and mind) open while traveling in Japan, you will discover a multitude of fascinating things to see, do, eat, and experience, many of which may take you by surprise. While visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine) I climbed the path up Mt. Inari, following the pilgrim route to the shrine at the very top of the mountain. Along the way, the “normal path” passes through a variety of stations, sub-shrines and places where visitors can stop to worship or enjoy

Read more

A Dragon Surprise at Fushimi Inari

Many Japanese shrines have sub-shrines dedicated to kami (gods or divinities) other than the shrine’s primary patron. Fushimi Inari is no exception. Partway up the mountain, a narrow path branches off the primary trail–if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss. If you follow the path a little way through the bamboo forest, you reach a shrine dedicated to Japan’s guardian dragons (ryu), where I saw this lovely statue:

Read more

An Interview with Kerry Schafer

Please help me welcome Kerry Schafer, author of the new fantasy release WAKEWORLD (The Between, #2) (Ace Books, January 2014) Kerry Schafer lives in Washington State with her family. Her job as a Mental Health Crisis Response Specialist takes her regularly into odd pockets of reality that provide inspiration for her writing. A self-styled perpetual student, she earned an RN from Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta; a BA in English (Honors) from York University in Toronto, Ontario; and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Washington State University. She is the author of Between. Vivian Maylor is trying to hold it together.

Read more