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Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 11  August 31, 2021 (Tue) - November 14, 2021 (Sun)

The Buddha Amida in the Zenkōji Style
Kamakura period, 1265

Japan has three main traditions of sculpture: Buddhist deities, Shinto deities, and portraits of people. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from the Korean Peninsula in the 6th century, together with sculptures of Buddhist deities. These sculptures were made primarily for worship. Making a sculpture was also an “act of spiritual merit” that would help one’s prayers to be answered.

In contrast, Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan. Since ancient times, people believed that Shinto deities dwell in natural features like mountains and rivers, and rarely depicted them as humanlike sculptures. Even when a Shinto shrine had a sculpture for worship, the priests usually kept it hidden from view out of respect.

Some portrait sculptures were also worshipped, as they showed deified monks or samurai. Others were made to remember the dead and pray for their salvation. This gallery features works mainly from the Heian (794–1192) and Kamakura (1192–1333) periods, when many of Japan’s most admired sculptures were created.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 4 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
The Buddha Amida in the Zenkōji Style Kamakura period, 1265 C-1109
_MD_RECOMMEND The Buddha Śākyamuni By Kōjō Edo period, 1664 Lent by Kan'eiji Temple, Tokyo
_MD_RECOMMEND Important Cultural Property The Buddhist Priest Jie Daishi By Renmyō Kamakura period, 1286 Lent by Kongōrinji Temple, Shiga
_MD_RECOMMEND Important Cultural Property The Wisdom King Fudō Heian period, 10th century Lent by Myōhōin Temple, Kyoto
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