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Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue at Murouji Temple (National Treasure)

Tomoe S.

by Tomoe S.

(106 reviews)
Last updated : Oct 10, 20225 min read

Culture

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(borrowed from the document folder which I bought at the official shop at Murouji Temple)

As I wrote in my another blog, 'Nyoirin Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion) which I fell in love', my favorite Buddhist statue is Nyoirin Kannon at Daigoji Temple in Kyoto.  There are, however, other kinds of Buddhist statues in Japan, such as statues of 'Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva'.  I happened to find the picture of a Buddhist statue which caught my eyes in a book, and learned that it is the Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue at Murouji Temple.  Don't you think that it's a lovely statue with plump cheeks?

(We are not allowed to take pictures of the Buddhist statues, so please refer to the official website of the temple to check the statues well.)

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Murouji Temple is the head temple of the Murouji Sect of Shingon Buddhism, located at the foot of Mt. Murou in Nara Prefecture.  (This area had been regarded as a sacred area since the ancient times.) 

(The history of Murouji Temple is said to have started by the order of the Emperor Tenmu in the late 7th century.  The temple has another name, 'Nyonin Koya'  in contrast to Mt. Koya which prohibited women to visit.  Murouji Temple has allowed women to worship and practice at the temple. )

 

There are many eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statues at many temples all over Japan.  Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statues watch people in all directions. 

Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue at Murouji Temple (National Treasure), which is about a little shorter than 2 meters, is said to have been carved from a single block of Japanese nutmeg (kaya) wood more than 1000 years ago.  The kannon statue has been believed to be close to people's heart and save people from pain and illness. People have sat in front of the statue wishing for their peace.

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(Kondo Hall)

Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue at Murouji Temple has twelve faces in fact.  The main head face looks feminine with plump cheeks.  It is thought to have been the flanking attendant of the principal image at Kondo Hall. (The building is also the National Treasure, which was built in the 9th century.  Kondo Hall is one of the oldest structures at Murouji Temple.) 

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(borrowed from the official brochure of Murouji Temple) (The statue on the left end side of the picture is the 'Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva.)

This statue used to have been enshrined in Kondo Hall with 'Twelve Divine Generals' (servants of Yakushi Nyorai which were made during 12th to 14th century.  Each of them has a Chinese zodiac animal on its head and guards 12 directions at noon and midnight.) 

Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva statue, however,  has been housed with 6 of 'Twelve Divine Generals' in the Treasure Hall since 2020.

There are many other places to see in Murouji Temple... 

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Kanjyodo Hall (Main Hall) (National Treasure), which was built in the 14th century, enshrines Nyoirin Kannon.

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Five-storied Pagoda (National Treasure), built in the early 9th century is the smallest outdoor five storied pagoda in Japan.  (16 meters tall.)  It is the second oldest pagoda after the pagoda at Horyuji Temple in Nara, however, in 1998, the pagoda was damaged severely by a typhoon. A large tree fell onto the pagoda!  Thanks to the donations, it was restored spending two years.

blog image(borrowed from the official brochure of Murouji Temple) 

Murouji Temple is also famous as the temple of rhododendron (alpine rose).  Around the end of April to the beginning of May, we can see the temple covered with rhododendron flowers. About 3000 rhododendrons burst into bloom!

 

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After climbing 720 steps from the gate,  Okuno-in Miedo (Miedo Hall of the Inner Sanctuary) (Important Cultural Property) will welcome you. 

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It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kyoto or 1 hour and 50 minutes from Osaka to Murouji Temple.  You have to exchange trains and take a bus (runs only one in an hour or 1 and half hours).

It's not so easy to access to Murouji Temple by public transportation, however, if you are interested, Murouji Temple is worth visiting.  You can enjoy its tranquility.

(June 2022)

 

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Tomoe S.

Tomoe S.

4.93 / 5
(106 reviews)

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