Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary (3)

by Yoshihisa

Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary  (3)Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary  (3)     This time let me write about bosatsu that is in the process of achieving enlightenment or Buddhahood.  Bosatsu represents the figure of Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, who was disciplining himself to attain enlightenment.  At the same time, bosatsu tries to save all the living things through his practice.  While nyorai seems to stay high up in the heaven, bosatsu is an existance much closer to us human beings.  Bosatsu statues are modeled on the princely appearance of Shakyamuni before he left his home.  Their dresses are gorgeous just as the ones the nobility of ancient India used to wear.  They also wear accessories such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  There are so many types of bosatsu statues that I would like to choose some of the representative ones from the viewpoint of tourism.

     Sho Kannon is the basic statue of kannon bosatsu that gives people all the worldly blessings and in 33 types of transfiguration offers salvation to those who are suffering from 33 types of distress such as poverty, hunger, mental and physical diseases and so forth.  According to the types of sufferings kannon deities try to save, they transform their figures.  Unlike Juichimen ( eleven-headed ) Kannon, one of the transfigured kannon bosatsu statues, sho kannon has only one head and two arms with a small amida nyorai statue ( kebutsu ) attached to the crown on the head.  Sho of Sho Kannon means right as well as holy.  One of the famous Sho Kannon statues is Standing Kuse Kannon housed in Yumedono Hall, Horyuji Temple, Nara.  This statue is said to be the image of Prince Shotoku in the seventh century.

     In the first section I already touched upon Seated Miroku Bosatsu at Chuguji Temple, Nara.  Here I would like to mention the position and role of miroku bosatsu in Buddhism.  Miroku bosatsu is believed to descend to this world 5.67 billion years after the death of Shakyamuni in order to offer salvation to all human beings.  He is promised to become a nyorai by Shakyamuni.  So some people classify miroku basatsu into the groups of nyorai.

     Standing Fuku-Kensaku Kannon at Hokkedo Hall, Todaiji Temple, Nara, is a must-see.  It is an eight armed figure with kensaku or silk-made hunting ropes with which the kannon tries to save all the living things.  Fuku means your wishes are not fruitless, in other words, all your wishes will be fulfilled.  The kannon is a dry-lacquered wooden statue in Nara period ( 710-784 ).  It is quite rare to find a halo of such grandeur.

     Senju ( a thousand-armed ) kannon is the one that tries to save all the people by any means.  Sen of senju means a thousand which represents infiniteness.  So this kannon saves all human beings and living creatures with infinite mercy.  Many senju kannon limit the number of arms to forty plus the main arms in prayer.  The most amazing senju kannon is that of Myohoin Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto which is surrounded by one thousand more statues of senju kannon.

     The last bosatsu in this section is jizo bosatsu which is very familiar to us Japanese because it stands anywhere, whether rural or urban, across Japan.  Jizo bosatsu has the role of saving all the living things during the time from the death of Shakyamuni to the appearance of miroku bosatsu.  Jizo bosatsu statues were made to grant various worldly benefits, especially focussing on the healthy growth of children and the safety of travellers.  This bosatsu is characterized by a shaven head and robes similar to those of a monk.  Even roadside stone statues are loved by local people, being addressed as " O'jizo-san" amiably. 

     Next time let's learn about Myo-oh.  See you soon.  


05 Aug 2016


Licensed Guide
(32) Reviews

Plan your trip to Kyoto with Yoshihisa

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Send a message

Recent Tour Reviews in Kyoto

“ Very Friendly, Very Knowledgable ”

2 months ago Traveler: Joe -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

We saw a week's worth of sights in one day touring with Yoshie! He prepared an incredible itinerary, and we really got to see all the highlights of Kyoto. He's a great communicator and incredibly knowledgeable about the sights and the surrounding areas. Highly recommended!
read more

“ Tour of Nara and Kobe ”

3 months ago Traveler: Serene -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshie-san was friendly and warm. My family really enjoyed his company and guidance. He took us to quaint restaurants, something that we appreciated and not the usual touristy restaurants. He is knowledgeable and has a good command of English. We really look forward to meeting him again in the near future!
read more

“ A great autumn day with Yoshie in Nara and Kyoto ”

3 months ago Traveler: Larry -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

We had a great November 23 tour with Yoshie. His breadth of knowledge about the sites really enhanced our appreciation of what we were seeing. Yoshie is a very personable, friendly chap who clearly enjoys people and explaining Japanese history and culture. The primary reason for our trip to Japan this time was to see the autumn colours, and we were definitely not disappointed. We strongly reco...
read more

“ An evening of food and fun in Osaka's Minami area ”

Very Good
3 months ago Traveler: Stephanie -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Mr Yoshihisa was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, showing us the local sights in Shinsekai and Dotombori, as well as introducing us to eateries that we probably would not have known to go to on our own. Unfortunately, we had recklessly stuffed ourselves at Kuromon Market just shortly before the tour, and so were too full to eat much, but what we did eat was delicious. Great evening out!
read more

“ Beautiful Autumn in Kyoto ”

Very Good
3 months ago Traveler: Karen -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Thanks so much for the very informative trip despite the rain, my family enjoyed the tour. Thanks so much for the amazing lunch place you brought us and the view and tips.
read more

“ Excellent guide! ”

4 months ago Traveler: William -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

We spent eight hours touring with Yoshie and it was the best day we spent in Kyoto. He speaks English very well and was extremely knowledgeable about all of the places we visited. It was a real pleasure spending the day with him.
read more

“ Very pleased ”

4 months ago Traveler: Connie -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

My husband and I booked Yoshihisa for private tours for 3 and 1/2 days. We did a walking night and dinner tour in Osaka going to places we never could have tried without him. The next several days we saw Nara, Kobe, and Kyoto. We did a lot of walking and saw Temples, Shrines, parks, gardens, food districts, shopping districts, and a harbor. Some places we wanted. Some places he suggested. It was a...
read more

“ Only Wish we Had More Time! ”

4 months ago Traveler: Andrew -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshie was an excellent and well-informed guide who made the most of our half-day tour of Kyoto. Each stop along our way was amazing, and Yoshie made them even more interesting with his knowledge of the places. He even made time to finish his itinerary well after our time was up, and I only wish we had booked a full day. Thanks, Yoshie!
read more

“ Kyoto tour from Osaka ”

4 months ago Traveler: Thanh -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshihisa is an excellent tour guide for he's very helpful, honest, friendly and knowledgeable about the places that he took us to. He also communicated well with me during the booking and before the tour. Our group really enjoyed this tour with him being our guide. I would definitely recommend him.
read more

“ Tour of Kyoto ”

5 months ago Traveler: PETER -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshihisa is an excellent guide that we enjoyed being with.
read more

Related cities