Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary (1)

by Yoshihisa

Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary  (1)Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary  (1)Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary  (1)     You may have visited Tohdaiji Temple in Nara and seen the statue of the Great Buddha.  Probably you were surprised at the big scale of the statue, but maybe you didn't pay much attention to other Buddhist statues.  That's mottainai (a shame) in Japanese.  If you have a basic knowledge of Buddhist statuary, you can enjoy viewing Buddhist statues much more, no matter where you are, in Nara, Kyoto, Kamakura or any other place.  Won't you learn ABCs of Buddhist statuary with me?

     Buddhist statuary is generally classified and ranked into the four groups of nyorai (tathgata), bosatsu (bodhisattva), myo-oh (vidyaraja) and ten-bu (deva).  

     Nyorai is the one that has attained the ultimate state of enlightenment or Buddhahood.  The Great Buddha at Tohdaiji Temple is a nyorai, who usually wears nothing but a thin cloth like a tunic.

     Bosatsu is the one that is in the process of achieving enlightenment or Buddhahood.  He is close to us human beings and tries to save all living things through his practice.  One of the most popular bosatsu statues is Miroku Bosatsu seated with the right leg resting across the left thigh lightly touching the right cheek at Chuguji Temple in Nara.  It is considered to be one of the three world images for mystic smiles along with Sphinx of Egypt and Mona Lisa of Paris.

     Myo-oh is the one that is believed to be a messenger or an incarnation of Dainichi Nyorai in esoteric Buddhism.  He threatens or intimidates unfaithful people with a scowling face and tries to force them back to the teachings of Buddha.  The moss-covered Fudo Myo-oh at Hozenji Temple near Dotombori in Osaka is a well-known and most favored myo-oh in Kansai area.

     Ten-bu is the one that was once a deity of an ancient Indian religion and was converted to Buddhism.  He is a guardian of the teachings of Buddhism, protecting faithful people from outside enemies.  The statue of Ashura at Kohfukuji Temple in Nara belongs to ten-bu and is probably the most favored by females, especially young women.

     Nex time, let me elaborate on each group of Buddhist statuary.  See you soon. 

   

   


20 Jul 2016


National Certified Guide

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Contact Yoshihisa

Hi. My name is Yoshihisa Tashiro. Call me "Yoshie", please. It means good or O.K. in Japanese. I live in Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture, located just in between Kyoto and Nara. I was born and raised in Iga, Mie Prefecture. Iga is a birthplace of ninja and a renowned haiku poet, Matsuo Basho. I might be a descendant of ninja. I aim at becoming a linguistic ninja, following a part of Basho's lifestyle with the incorporation of seasonal changes into my tours. In addition to visiting famous temples and shrines, I invite you to lesser-known places of historic interest.
Once in a month I go hiking or mountain climbing with some friends mainly in mountains surrounding Kyoto and Nara basins. Recently I have got intrigued by the charms of Buddhist statues, which are manifestations of people's wishes and prayers. I also like izakaya (Japanese-style taverns) hopping, tasting delicious dishes and locally brewed sake at reasonable prices. Especially I like communicating with people from home and abroad, talking face to face. Some of the above-mentioned elements are included in my walking tours. I hope you will discover new aspects of cultural and natural beauty in Kansai area through one of my tours which you could never gain otherwise.
One of my favorite phrases that come from Zen Buddhism is Ichigo Ichie or this meeting-but only once in a lifetime. My interpretation goes this way: This place and this moment never cross again. Each and every good encounter, however, lingers on like the sound of a temple bell. Won't you explore a deeper world of Japanese culture in Kyoto, Nara and Osaka with me?
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