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Muroji, 001, relief carving of Miroku Buddha on bluff above the Muro River, along the approach to Muroji.

Abstract

Muroji (Muroo temple) is perhaps 15 miles southeast of Nara City, in the "mountains" of Nara Prefecture (mountains similar to the American Catskills or the foothills of the Appalachians). One takes a train from Nara station into the countryside, then transfers to a local train to reach the station near Muroji. From that station, one takes a bus that runs hourly to travel the several miles along a winding, two lane road to the small village of Muro. Muro village shares with the road a narrow strip of flat land between the Muro River and the steep hillside that rises perhaps 100 yards from the river embankment. It is a small rural village and retains something of the feel of the Japan of decades past. Whether because of its relative inaccessibility or because it is not listed in tour books, the temple of Muroji does not attract the crowds that daily visit the temples of Kyoto and Nara, and few of the visitors to Muroji are not Japanese. [During the summer and fall of 2000, the road was being straightened out some and widened. It will be interesting to see whether this brings more visitors and more commerce to Muro village, and changes the feel of the community.] The road from the train station to the village of Muro parallels the Muro River for most of the way. -- Perhaps a mile or two from Muro village, one comes upon this surprising sight on the opposite side of the river. Carved into the stone of the bluff on the bank of the river is a shallow relief carving of the Miroku Buddha and, to the lower left of the Miroku figure, a mandala carved in stone. The carving is almost flat, and is more in the nature of a linear engraving on the stone than it is a 3-dimensional sculptural work. The carving dates from the very early Kamakura period, around 1207 or 1208. Image ecasia000002 is an enlarged version of this image and it shows detail of some of the lines in the engraved image. The carving was asssociated with Onodera, another temple, besides Muroji, associated with Kofukuji in Nara. Along with the construction of the Miroku Hall at Muroji, the stone Miroku is an expression of Kofukuji's devotion to the Miroku.

Note

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgement to be given to the IDEAS Project and to the photographer. Photographer retains copyright.

Administrative Notes

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only, in accordance with Fair Use policies. Acknowledgement to be given to the IDEAS Project and to the photographer. Photographer retains copyright.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Earlham College
PID
coccc:22480
Extent
478 pixels w x 720 high, 96 ppi