Friday, April 16, 2021

Some Art at Horakuji Temple


Buddhist temples in Japan, like temples, shrines, and churches all over the world, are often repositories of a lot of art. Some temples have a little in the grounds, ornamenting the architecture, and inside on the aktars, etc. Some however are rich in artworks amd can be like visiting a museum or gallery.

It can be quite bewildering trying to know exactly what you are looking at. The massive array of deities, buddhas,  and other characters on display can be obscure. I myself spent my first decade in japan primarily visiting shrines, and have a pretty good grasp of kami and such, but it was not until I started walking the pilgrimages that I started to take note of Buddhist related figures, and while some I am pretty sure of being able to identify, I am by no means an expert.

This third phot I am pretty sure is Shoki, a Daoist demon-quelling figure. A lot of Daoism was imported into Japan through Buddhism, though there was probably some before that. Much of what is called shinto has roots in daoism though it is often referred to as "Chinese folklore". Shoki is well known to people in Iwami because he is the main character of a popular kagura performnce.

This photo of a young priest may be Kobo Daishi as a young man. Horakuji is a Shingon temple and their website says they have a modern statues of him. It may be Jiun, a famous 18th century monk who began his studies as an acolyte here when he was 13 and went on to become famous as both a sanskrit scholar and as a religious leader who emphasized a return to an earlier, less "degenerated" form of Buddhism.

This last one is obviously an onigawara, a demon rooftile to ward off evil. Quite a similarity to the "demon queller".

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