Kyoto Shimbun 2013.10.7 News

Touching Replicas is Binding Ties with Buddha
Special Exhibition at Byodo-in Temple

A special exhibition, in which visitors can touch the replica of the "Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu-zo," or image of bodhisattva on a flying cloud, which was made in the late Heian Period, is being held at the Byodoin Museum Hoshokan on the grounds of Byodo-in Temple in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. These replicas will be exhibited in the Phoenix Hall next spring, upon completion of its repairs. The temple stated, "We would like visitors to make a connection with the Buddha which has decorated the Phoenix Hall over many hundreds of years."

"Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu-zo" is a group of bodhisattvas which decorate the walls inside the Phoenix Hall. The bodhisattvas are dancing or playing some musical instruments on flying clouds, and were made by members of the Buddhist sculptor Jocho's studio in 1053 when the temple was built. Just like the principal seated statue of Amitabha Buddha made by Jocho, the 52 extant statues of bodhisattvas are designated as National Treasures.

Since 2004, Kiyoshi Murakami, a Buddhist sculptor in Kanagawa Prefecture, has been working on the replicas of 26 bodhisattvas for cultural preservation in the same technique as at that time. Exhibited is a replica of a bodhisattva that has a lotus pedestal for carrying the souls to the Pure Land, measuring 61.5 centimeters in height and width. It has a characteristic elegant style that preserves the original appearance. The Byodo-in Temple presents people with a certificate showing a relationship with the Buddhist faith in which touching Buddhist statues is a special action for creating a relationship with the Buddha. A fifth-grade boy, visiting from Katano City, Osaka Prefecture, said, "It felt smooth and good. I was surprised at its great precision."

The exhibition will continue every day until January 17. The replicas will be changed on November 30 for the latter half of the exhibition. Other replicas in progress are also on display. There is a 300 yen admission fee for adults. For more information, call Byodo-in Temple at 0774-21-2861.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= Visitors can touch the replica of "Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu-zo" at the special exhibition (Byodoin Museum Hoshokan, Uji, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture)