Heiwa Kannon located in Ohya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Pref. is a huge statue of Kannon carved into a wall of Ohya Stone in the old Ohya stone quarry. It was made in hope for world peace and in memory of Japan and U.S. war dead soldiers in the World War II. The statue is 26.93-meter in height and 20-centimeter in circumference of waist. It was made in 1954 by a stone mason, Ryozo Ueno, who did its foundation work, and a sculptor, Asajiro Hida, who hand-carved its calm expression. From the top of the stairs beside the statue, you can command a wide view of the Utsunomiya plain over its shoulder.
On the left side of the Kannon was a tunnel leading to Ohyaji Temple, but it is currently closed for the danger of falling. Ohyaji Temple is also famous for its rock-cut Kannon known as Ohya Kannon. Heiwa Kannon is a symbol of the stone town of Ohya.
Sendai Sparrow Dance is an annual festival that takes place at Miyajyouno-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, at the end of July.
It is said to originate with a dance that was improvised by stonecutters from Sakai, Oosaka, in front of Date Masamune at a banquet after a formal celebration of the newly-built Sendai Castle in a new location.
With its upbeat tempo, energetic movements and hopping dance which resembles sparrows pecking their food, and also because the family crest of Date is “bamboo and sparrow”, the dance came to be called “sparrow dance”.
Before the Second World War, the dance was preserved and practiced by descendants of stonecutters in Ishikiri Town, but recently it has become more widely popular among people in general and many dance groups have sprung up.
Presently, groups compete against each other with their techniques and beauty by inventing an original choreography which is developed from the basic dance pattern called “Hanekko Odori” which is to move a fan across the front of the body while jumping left and right.
Sendai Sparrow Dance brings a poetic charm to the season of summer and is much loved by local people.
Takanabe Taishi is the generic name of about 700 stone Buddhist statues located in Takanabe-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Pref. The statues were carved by Yasukichi Iwaoka (1889-1977), who devoted his half a lifetime to this feat. Distressed by a series of robbing of Mochida Kofun, Yasukichi turned over his family business to his son at the age of 40 and began to carve stone statues to console the souls of the ancient chieftains. In 1931, he obtained a part of land, where a group of kofun are located, and invited a stone workman from Usuki, Oita Pref. to learn how to carve statues.
The stone statues included the huge statues of Fudo Myoo, Inari Okami, Twelve Yakushi Nyorai, Juichimen Kanzeon (11-faced Kanzeon), Amaterasu Okami, Susanoo no Mikoto and various other small statues. Prayers, requiem and the feelings that people handed down since the ancient times are all embodied in these statues.
Ono Temple belongs to the Muroji Shingon Sect of Buddhism and is located in Muro-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. The temple's sango title is Mt Yoryu.
Ono Temple is a branch temple of Muro Temple and, because of its location west of this, it was also called the 'West Gate of Muro Temple'. The temple was built by Enno Gyoja in 681. In 824, Kukai built a saya and named it Jisonin Miroku Temple, but it came to be called Ono Temple after its location.
The Miroku Gesho Senkoku Daimagaibutsu, seen carved on the Byobugaura on the opposite shore by the Uda River, was carved in 1207 by a mason named Inoyukisue from Song Dynasty China; it is the largest Senkoku Daimagaibutsu in Japan.
Trees within the precinct of the temple include the large 'benishidare' (a type of cherry) growing here in rows, as well as the 300-year-old giant 'koitoedatare' (another type of cherry), which blossoms beautifully in the spring.
Walls are built around castles and towers as protection. These walls are usually made of stone, and are mounted within the basic structure of the architecture.
Walled fortresses can be seen in many world civilizations. Although, the styles differ, the basics are the same; some are beautifully made and some have special features, such as ducts for discharging water.
In Japan, walling can be seen especially in castles and castle towns. The Ano Group from Kunie are famous for their designs of fortresses and their beautifully designed walls. Also, in the Ryukyu Islands, it was common practice to put stones on roofs and the surroundings to protect their houses from fierce winds and storms.
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.
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.
The Sugao stone Buddha statues were created in the late-Heian period. The area was designated as an archeological site on 22 January, 1924, and as an important cultural asset on 26 May, 1964.
There are five carved images: Amitabha Buddha in the center, Bhaisajyaguru and Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara on the right, and Jūichimen Kannon and Tamonten on the left. They are preserved in relatively good condition. From the red-colored images, an invisible energy seems to gush out.
For 1000 years, these monuments have been protecting the people from mishap, while bringing luck and encouraging the birth and raising of strong children. The statues are also called 'Iwagongen' as an invocation to the god Kishu-Kumanogongen