Showing posts with label rakan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rakan. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Tennenji Temple & Misosogi Shrine


Located above  the Kawanaka Fudo Magaibutsu, Tennenji Temple and Misosogi Shrine are in essence the same place.

They are fairly rudimentary structures, one with a thatched roof. A flood in 1941 washed the original temple away and there have been no resident priests since then and the remaining statues have been looked after by local people.

These 4-5 meter long torches are in readiness for the Shujo Onie fire festival in early February where dancers dressed as demons dance with fire to bring good fortune. These fire festivals take place at several sites around the Kunisaki peninsula. The one I visited at Iwatoji Temple can be seen here.

Next door is a museum devoted to the Shujo Onie festival but which also houses many of the ancient statues from the original temple.

The shrine building has a male-female mask combination. This is fairly common at many shrines, and most would say that the red-faced mask with the long nose was a Tengu, but I think it is a Sarutahiko mask as it is not wearing the tokin, the small black hat that yamabushi wore.

Sarutahiko is considered one of the origins of Tengu. According to the ancient myths, Sarutahiko guided the Yamato heavenly deities down to Japan and later married Uzume and that leads to the combination of masks seen here....

Uzume later became the model for the Otafuku character.....

The shrine, and temple, have their inner sanctuaries under overhangs in the cliff face....

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Art of Tanjoji Temple

Japan Guide

Temples are, like churches and cathedrals in the West, repositories of art. One of the delights of visiting them is to explore and find interesting statues, carvings etc. Tanjoji Temple in Okayama was pretty good in this regard, with quite a range of things to see. The statue above is an Amida Buddha, the focus of the school of Buddhism founded by Honen who was born on this spot.

I visited the temple while walking the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage, and ths is the Kannon statue. It was carved by Jigaku Daishi and enshrined in 1631. It is now called the Oshichi Kannon after Oshichi, a 16 year old girl executed for arson after a major fire in Edo. The subject of many books and play, Oshichi's story can be found here at Gabi Greve's wonderful site....

Onigawara are "demon tiles" found on the roofs of some temples and other buildings. In situ they are hard to see as they are up on the roof, but often you will find older versions from previous versions of the buildings are ondislay, like here. Intriguing is the diversity of designs.

One of the most ubiquitous sights all over Japan are small statues of Jizo with their trademark caps and bibs.

Above the entrance to many temple and shrine buildings can be found relief carvings of dragons. Usually of a quite standard design, this one is somewhat more expressive....

Sometimes..... when I'm lucky,.... powerful compositions simply present themselves to me....

This is said to be the largest Buddha statue in Okayama, and is a Nationally-registered Important Cultural ropert, but have no details on it.

Long time readers of this blog know that I am quite obsessed with Fudo Myo, and this single example at Tanjoji was in the Kannon Hall.

These are , I suspext, statues of rakan, disciples of the Buddha, also in the Kannn Hall.

Green Tea

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Portraits of Rakan

Rakan, sometimes referred to by their sanskrit name of Arhat, are generally considered to be disciples of the historical Buddha, and in Japan are often found collectively as a group of 500 statues.

One of their features is that every single face is different with a different expression, and that you will be able to find at least one that reminds you of someone you know.

In the rakan hall of Jizoji, temple number 5 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, there are nowhere near 500 of them, but they are unusually large.

On my first morning walking the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage I started at Jizoji before heading up the mountain to the first Fudo temple.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nanzoin Temple part 2


There is a lot to see at Nanzoin Temple. A friend once described it, critically, as like a Buddhist "theme park", but I think back in the Edo period pilgrimage temples were a lot like that with many "attractions" to draw pilgrims. In the grounds  stands a massive, ancient tree that had been hit by lightning, though still living. Carved into it is a relief of Raijin, the God of Thunder and Lightning.


Nanzoin is a pilgrimage temple, being the first of the Sasaguri Pilgrimage. There is also a complete set of the 500 Rakan, or Arhats, the disciples of the Buddha, each with a different face and pose.


Not sure who this is. Obviously dressed as a monk, it might very well be Kobo Daishi. the founder of Shingon, the sect to which Nanzoin belongs.


This modern carving of a married couple is a Sainokami, also known as Dosojin. In earlier times they were often a single phallic stone, or a a pair of stones and were placed at village boundaries and crossroads for protection.


Probably a Jizo as he often is holding a staff and with children around him, but he seems to have a medicine jar in his left hand which is what Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, would be holding

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage Temple 2 Sofukuji


A few of the temples on the Iwami Kannon Pigrimages are likely to be quite large and important, but I expect most to be like this one, Sofukuji, officially temple number 2.


Its a small village temple of the Soto Zen sect located in Ikeda at the base of Mount Sanbe. There was no-one home so I could not get into the main hall and see the main Kannon statue, the honzon.


However you never know what you are going to find, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover this collection of statues which seem to be rakan, the 500 disciples of the Buddha.


One of the intriguing things about the rakan is the diversity of faces and poses. It is said that you can always find a statue that reminds you of someone you know.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shikoku 88 Temple 5 Jizoji

Temple number 5, in Itano Town, enshrines Jizo, an immensely popular deity in Japan. The temple itself is nothing special. many of the buildings date from the 18th century as it was, like so many other, burnt down by Chosokabe in the 16th century.

The Nio were rather nice and unusual, both in their style and coloration. It is easy to see the Hindu roots.....

The founding legend states that the temple was founded by Kukai (Kobo Daishi) in the early 9th century.

Behind the temple on the hillside is a huge U-shaped hall housing hundreds of statues. If you are walking the pilgrimage trail you come to this hall first before reaching the temple proper. The left hand hall houses statues of the 500 disciples of the Buddha, each with quite a different expression.

The other side contains many statues of bodhisattvas.

I revisited Jizo-ji many years later while wqlking the Shikoku Fudo Myo pilgrimage. photos from this visit can be seen here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Buddhas, Jizo, and other statues of Kunisaki 3


The kunisaki Peninsular in northern Kyushu is home to a huge number of stone buddhist statues.


many are created by craftsmen and many are "folk".


I can usually recognize Jizo, Kannon, Fudo Myoo, and rakan, but others are still beyond my knowledge.


Not all of them are old.... these are Kannon, I believe, and were at a temple known as a "womans" temple.


Not sure who this guy is, but he is my kind of buddha!!


Gradually I am learning more about the huge diversity of gods and buddhas that populate Japanese buddhism.


These are the last I will post for now., next will be magaibutsu... carvings directly into cliffs and rocks. Kunisaki has more of these than any other area of japan.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buddhas, Jizo, & other statues of Kunisaki 2


This set of Jizo are quite unusual, not only in their facial expressions, but also in that they are ceramic and not the usual stone.


Often large groups of statues of different figures will be rakan, disciples of the Buddha.


I am not sure who this guy is, maybe one of you can tell me, but like many of the buddhist pantheon it seems to have its roots in Hinduism.


These look like Jizo, guardian of children among other identities. Possibly Mizuko Jizo for children who died before birth.


Once again, I have no idea who this pair are. maybe some of you know?


All of thesae photos were taken on the Kunisaki peninsular in Oita Prefecture, north Kyushu, one of my favorite places in japan and home to an enormous amount of statues, mostly of stone.