#35 仏像 Buddhist Statues

Twice a month, my friend and I organize the event, “Let’s talk about Kyoto in English and Japanese”. Today’s theme was Shito Shrines.
I took memo of useful expression 🙂

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

Buddhism has bee the dominant religion in Japan for well over a millennium. There are now about 80,000 Buddhist temples around the country.

dominant 最有力な
millennium 1,000年

At most of them, the principal object of worship is a statue, in front of which visitors pray.

the principal object of worship ご本尊

Buddhist statues can be classified into four main categories.

Nyorai are the highest in rank. There are beings who have attained enlightenment. The most famous nyorai is Shaka Nora, the founder of Buddhism. Other nyorai include Amida Nora, who leads people to the Pure Land, and Yakushi Nyorai, who can heal the sick. Different nyorai statues are used by different sects.

Pure Land  極楽浄土
sect 宗派

Next, bosatsu…These are beings who are working toward attaining enlightenment. The most common boasts is Kannon Boasts, who has a warm smile and offers help to people with problems.

Besides nyorai and bosatsu, there are also myo-o and ten. Myo-o are deities who punish those who ignore the Buddha’s teachings. Ten are Indian gods and goddesses who became Buddhist guardian deities.

如来 Nyorai- These are beings who have attained enlightenment.
菩薩 Boasts- These are beings who are working towards attaining enlightenment.
明王 Myo-o- Deities who punish those who ignore the Buddha’s teaching.
天 Ten- Indian gods and goddesses who became Buddhist guardian deities.

Buddhist statues were first produced in Japan over 1,400 years ago. Ever since, great efforts have been made to create representations of Buddhist figures.

guardian deities 守護神

This is the 7th-century Shaka Nora statue at Horyuji Temple. One of its notable features is the long, flowing robe covering the dais.

dais 台座

Its swirling patterns symbolize the divine powers of the Buddha. The combination of the robe and the decorative piece behind the figure suggests that the Buddha is emitting light in all directions.

This Yakushi Nyorai statue at Shinyakushiji Temple was made in the 8th century. It’s easy to see that its raised right hand is thick and plump, but look closely and you’ll notice that the fingernails are curved upwards. They’re said to have been modeled after the nails of a baby. At the time this statue was made, people associated babies’ vigour and innocence with Buddhist deities.

plump ふっくらとした
vigour 活力

Japan is home to a vast number of Buddhist statues that were produced with the aim of spreading Buddhism, and their designs all represent the hopes and prayers of believers.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)

dominant 最も優勢な
Timber is still the dominant material used for building houses in Japan.
Timber 木材

Syncretization of Shinto and Buddhism

Confucianism was the principal subject of study during the Edo period.

Buddhism is based on the idea that every being is equal.

The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to attain a state of enlightenment.

In the early Meiji period, many books were written to enlighten the public about the concept of democracy.

figure は人物という意味。
Oda Nobunaga is one of the most popular historical figures of Warring States period.

devine 神の、神聖な

In the old days, people believed natural disasters were caused by divine will.

Before the war, the emperor was regarded as having devine status, with powers transcending those of the Diet.

(All from “Trad Japan” NHK publisher has copy right.)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s