NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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大分 五百羅漢 Ooita Gohyaku-rakan The 500 Rakan of Oita

Jp En

Gyoku-ho-dorin, the 15th resident priest of Toko Temple (which has a history of 612 years), asked Yoshino Kakunojo, a Hide stone craftsman, to sculpt 521 statues of rakan. Starting from 1863, it took him 19 years to complete.

The sculpting of the rakan was to gain merit for the local people. Usually rakan do not appear to have human face, but these statues are carved to represent four different emotions, which make them peculiar. Also at this site behind the main building is a bussokuseki (a carved stone foot) called 16 Rakan. It is modeled on a similar one at Todaiji Temple in Nara. The size of this rare bussokuseki is about 48.5cm.

The rakan temple, standing in the harsh rocky mountains, was established in 645 by an Indian monk. Many visitors come here to pray for safety and good work.

Within the cave are over 3777 statues, of which the 500 rakan in the Murodo are the most famous. Standing in the entrance is a statue of the Zenkai monk, which contains his relics.
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十六羅漢岩 Jyuuroku-rakan-iwa Jyuroku-rakan-iwa

Jp En

Jyuroku-rakan-iwa (16 Rakan Rocks) is an area of huge statues carved from rock in the Yuza district of Akumi in Yamagata Prefecture. It has been designated as one of Japan's top 100 historic cultural treasures by the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

Jyuroku-rakan-iwa is carved from volcanic rock that erupted many thousands of years ago from Mt Chokai, a mountain that spans Yamagata and Akita prefectures. Lava from the cone of the volcano flowed into the Sea of Japan and hardened. It was not until many years later that statues were carved out of the rock.

The idea of the statues came from Osho Kankai of Kaizenji Temple who wished for a memorial and a monument to pray for the safety of fishermen and for the peace of the souls of those who had died at sea. The statues were carved by local stonemasons over 5 years. Of the 22 statues, 16 are called 'rakan' (Buddhist disciples) while the rest are Kannon and Buddha.

Because the rock protrudes into the Sea of Japan, they are heavily weathered by wave, wind and snow. But this again may be why the statues make the observer feel the long history and mysteriousness of the guardian gods.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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