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The Saint Kūya and Rokuharamitsuji Temple

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    The Saint Kūya and Rokuharamitsuji Temple

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T5 : March 1, 2022 (Tue) - May 8, 2022 (Sun)

    The year 2022 marks the 1050th anniversary of the death of the Buddhist saint Kūya. The oldest surviving sculpture of Kūya is said to be the principal image of Rokuharamitsuji Temple (called Saikōji Temple at the time of its founding) in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto. This realistic image, which shows Kūya chanting the devotional Nembutsu phrase while walking, was carved by Kōshō, son of the master sculptor Unkei. Rokuharamitsuji is also closely connected to Unkei’s pupils, and home to a sculpture of the Seated Jizō Bosatsu by Unkei himself.
    The Saint Kūya and Rokuharamitsuji Temple
    brings together masterpieces of Buddhist sculpture from the Heian and Kamakura periods, including Kōshō’s image of Kūya, Four Deva Kings carved at the time of the founding of Rokuharamitsuji, and a Jizō sculpture said to have been carved by the master sculptor Jōchō.

     

    List of Works  (1.4MB)

    Highlights of the Exhibition

    General Information

 

Highlights of the Exhibition

 

The Saint Kūya and the Founding Rokuharamitsuji Temple

The Rich History of Rokuhara

 

 

The Saint Kūya and the Founding Rokuharamitsuji Temple

The Saint Kūya was a priest who lived among the ordinary townsfolk during the Heian period (794–1192). When the capital Kyoto was ravished by plague in 954, Kūya sought end the epidemic and bring peace to the world by building a statue of the Eleven-headed Bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokitesvara) and transcribing the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. Saikōji Temple (Rokuharamitsuji’s predecessor) was built to house this Kannon image.

Kūya inspired devotion among people of all strata, from townsfolk to the nobility. This chapter explores his life and the history of Rokuharamitsuji, the much-loved temple he founded.

 

Standing Saint Kūya
By Kōshō, Kamakura period, 13th century 
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 

空也上人

The Saint Kūya

The Saint Kūya lived during the mid-Heian period. This was a time of societal change and considerable social upheaval, with disease rampant and disasters a frequent occurrence. Kūya sought to help people survive through these turbulent times. He dug wells, offered alms to the poor, and taught Buddhism to sick people and prisoners, for example. He would chant “Namu Amida-butsu” (“I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha”) while performing these tasks.

Kūya’s largest projects in Heiankyo (Kyoto) involved the transcription of the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra and the construction of a Standing Eleven-headed Kannon statue, for instance. To achieve these, he called upon the assistance of people from all walks of life, from the nobility to regular townsfolk. Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple still houses the Kannon statue and a set of Standing Four Deva Kings statues from that time. They continue to protect people to this day.

空也上人

 

 

Jikokuten(Dhrtarastra) of Standing Shitennō (Four Deva Kings)
Heian period, 10th century
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 

Seated Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru)
Heian period, 10th century
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 

 

The Rich History of Rokuhara

Rokuharamitsuji Temple lies close to Gojō Ōhashi bridge, site of a famous episode involving the warrior-priest Benkei and Ushiwakamaru (Minamoto no Yoshitsune). The temple was also built near Tribeno, a burial ground on the outskirts of the capital Heiankyō (Kyoto) that was said to mark the border between this world and the next. This area continued to play a prominent role down the ages. The warrior Taira clan resided there at the end of the Heian period, for example, while the shogunal government also established a regional office there during the Kamakura period (1192–1333).

This chapter uses temple treasure passed down through a long and tumultuous history to explore this unique area and the profound faith it engendered.

Seated Priest (Portrait of Taira no Kiyomori〔Presumed〕)
Kamakura period, 13th century 
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 

 

Standing Jizō Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)
Heian period, 11th century
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 

Seated Enma (Yama)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Rokuharamitsuji Temple, Kyoto
(Important Cultural Property)

 

 


Rokuharamitsuji Temple

Rokuharamitsuji Temple

Officially known as Fudarakusan Fumon-in, Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple is affiliated with the Shingon Chisan school. It is also known as the 17th stop on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. The temple’s principal image is a hidden Standing Eleven-headed Kannon statue. As a general rule, this National Treasure is only displayed once every 12 years, during the Year of the Dragon.

Several traditional events are held at Rokuharamitsu-ji throughout the year. These include the serving of Obukucha tea during the first three days of the year, a Lantern Festival during the August Obon holidays, and the Kūya Yuyaku Nenbutsu ceremony (December 13–31), an important tangible folk-cultural property.


Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple

 

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General Information

 

Period

March 1–May 8, 2022

Venue Japanese Gallery (Honkan), Room T5, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)
Hours 9:30–17:00
Closed Mondays (except for March 21, March 28 and May 2) and March 22
Reservation tickets

Adults: ¥1,600
University students: ¥900
High school students: ¥600
Junior high school students and under: Free

* We recommend that you purchase a timed-entry ticket online before your visit. Please check the exhibition website for details (https://kuya-rokuhara.exhibit.jp/).
Tickets may also be purchased at the ticket counter, but you may be asked to wait if the exhibition is crowded. Also, please be aware that tickets are limited and may sell out.

* Persons with disabilities are admitted free with one accompanying person each (please present an ID at the ticket booth).

* Visitors with tickets for this exhibition may also view the regular exhibitions on the day of their visit at no extra charge. The regular exhibitions do not require a timed-entry ticket. Other special exhibitions require separate admission fees and advance purchase of timed-entry tickets is recommended.

* The World of Traditional Performing Arts: Kabuki, Bunraku, Noh and Kyogen, Gagaku, Kumi-odori (January 7–March 13, 2022) and POMPEII (March 1–May 8, 2022) requires a separate reservation and admission fee.

Access 10 minutes' walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15 minutes' walk from Keisei Ueno Station, Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Nezu Station
Organizers Tokyo National Museum、Rokuharamitsuji Temple、The Asahi Shimbun, TV Asahi Corporation, Asahi Satellite Broadcasting Limited
With the Sponsorship of Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.(DNP), SHOGAKUKAN Inc.
General Inquiries 050-5541-8600 (Hello Dial)
Exhibition Website https://kuya-rokuhara.exhibit.jp/