Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary (4)

     This time let's learn about myo-oh that is believed to be a messenger or an incarnation of Dainichi Nyorai in esoteric Buddhism. Myo-oh is characterized by angry facial expressions and multiple faces, eyes, hands and feet.   By these strange and dreadful figures myo-oh tries to save those beings that have slipped through the hands of nyorai and bosatsu.  So he uses such means as threatening and intimidation in order to bring unfaithful people back to the teachings of Buddha.  In this section, let me write about Godai Myo-oh ( Five Great Wisdom Kings ) and two other myo-oh; Kujaku ( peacock ) Myo-oh and Aizen Myo-oh.

     In the first section, I already touched on moss-covered Fudo Myo-oh of Hozenji Temple, Osaka.  Fudo Myo-oh is ranked highest among the Godai Myo-oh statues. It is usually seated in the center, surrounded by the other four myo-oh statues.  Fudo Myo-oh has a fierce look with kaen, a fiery aureola.  Since not all people can be led to salvation with gentle words, he resorts to the final means of wrath.

     The other four Great Wisdom Kings are Gozanze Myo-oh ( east ), Gundari Myo-oh ( south ), Daiitoku Myo-oh ( west ) and Kongoyasha Myo-oh ( north ).  Gozanze oppresses three worldly desires of greed, anger and ignorance as well as rules the lapse of time, past, present and future.  It is a three-faced and eight-armed statue standing on the Hindu god Siva and his consort.  Gundari gets rid of all the obstacles and settles difficult matters.  He holds coiled snakes, symbolic creature of worldly desires, around his arms and legs.  Daiitoku suppresses all the evils in this world and was a deity of war victory towards the end of Heian period ( late 12th century ).

It is a six-faced, six-armed and six-legged statue with three eyes on each face, riding on a baffalo.  Kongoyasha destroys various kinds of evil with a kongosho weapon in his hand.  The statue is three-faced and six-armed with five eyes in the central face.  What a weired appearance!  You can see the oldest group of Godai Myo-oh at Tohji Temple, Kyoto, well-known for the tallest five-story pagoda in Japan.

     Kujaku ( peacock ) Myo-oh is believed to cast away diseases, speed up recovery from illness and be good for life extension, because peacocks are said to get rid of all the poisons by eating poisonous weeds and snakes.  Kujaku Myo-oh dates back to Nara period ( 8th century ) unlike other myo-oh statues made in Heian period.  It is given a female position in India, so it is characterized by a tender facial expression like a bosatsu statue.  She rides on a peacock with its wings open, usually four-armed and crown-headed.  One of the most famous Kujaku Myo-oh, sculpted by Kaikei in Kamakura period ( 1192-1333 ), is housed in Kongobuji Temple, Koya-san, Wakayama Prefecture.

     Aizen Myo-oh purifies sensual lust and elevates it to the faith in esoteric Buddhism.  This myo-oh was widely believed among the aristocratic class in Heian period because it helped to create harmony between people and  to calm down battles.  The statue has one face with three eyes and six hands holding various articles including a bow and arrow.  Aizen Myo-oh resembles Eros and Cupid in Greco-Roman mythology, in that some statues are posed drawing a bow to release an arrow into heaven.  One of the main Aizen Myo-oh statues is housed in Saidaiji Temple, Nara.  The body of the statue is painted in bright red, which represents sensual lust.  Public viewing is in spring and autumn only.

     Next time let's learn about ten-bu.  See you. soon. 

Did you like my article?

You can send me a message to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

I'll be waiting for you, so please check my profile and get your trip plan now

Tours By Guide

My Favorite Golden Route: Kyoto One-day Tour

8 hours

This tour is designed for those who would like to visit major scenic sites in Kyoto and off-the-beaten spots as well in a single day. The route is the one that has been favored and admired by many of my guests for the past few years. The itinerary mainly consists of three areas; Kitayama, Arashiyama and Fushimi areas. You will surely have unforgettable memories through the tour with me.

FROM$290/ per group

Nara Sightseeing & the World of Buddhist Statuary

7 hours

Through this tour you will be intrigued with the charm of Buddhist statuary, which represents people's wishes and prayers. Figures of statues vary according to the development of eras from Asuka period to Muromachi period. At the same time you can

FROM$251/ per group

Izakaya Hopping & Sightseeing in Minami Area, Osaka

5 hours

This tour is meant for those who would like to enjoy sightseeing in Minami ( South ) Area, Osaka and eating and drinking at three izakayas ( Japanese-style taverns ) for relatively reasonable prices in a friendly atmosphere.

FROM$179/ per group

My Favorite Silver Route: Kyoto One-day Tour

8 hours

This tour is designed for those who have finished My Favorite Golden Route: Kyoto One-day Tour and would like to make a second-day tour in Kyoto. The tour covers most of the main tourist attractions in the eastern area of Kyoto. It also has a couple of choices according to your needs and wishes. I hope you will have a very pleasant tour with me.

FROM$290/ per group

Trekking & Walking Tour in Higashi-yama Area from Fushimi Inari to Gion  

7 hours

This tour is meant for those who are interested in trekking in mountains and visiting popular tourist attractions plus lesser-known places of historic interest in Fushimi and Higashiyama Areas. You will visit Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine, Kiyomizu and

FROM$251/ per group

The Fascination of Uji & Fushimi from Byodo-in to Teradaya Inn

8 hours

This tour is designed for Kyoto repeaters who would like to explore southern areas of Kyoto rich in historic and scenic sites. Uji is famous for the production of high-quality tea and Byodo-in Temple, a World Heritage site. Fushimi well-known for the production of Japanese sake was a battle ground before the Meiji Restoration ( 1868 ) between pro and anti Tokugawa Shogunate troops.

FROM$287/ per group

Plan your trip to Kyoto with Yoshihisa T.

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.

Send Message