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  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 032, Hall for Memorial Tablets, viewed from mountain path
    Muroji, 032, Hall for Memorial Tablets, viewed from mountain path

    The entrance to the Hall for Memorial Tablets, at Muroji is on ground level of a small level area. Most of the hall, however, is built out over the steep hillside, supported on scaffolding, as shown in this image taken from the stone stairs as one approaches the small plateau.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 029t, view up the steps to the Okunoin, the  inner sanctuary
    Muroji, 029t, view up the steps to the Okunoin, the inner sanctuary

    This is a view of the path, the steps leading up the mountainside at Muroji to the Hall of Eternal Light, also called the Hall for Memorial Tablets. It is a very steep and long climb, consisting of 400 steps built in the 1860's. It also is a beautiful walk up the mountainside, as the steps pass through a quiet forest of giant crytomeria trees. As suggested in the description of the kondo, with its placement in a "natural" wooded site, the presence of nature at Muroji is important and points to a change in the role of nature in relation to Buddhism in Japan, compared, e.g., to the role of setting at earlier temples such as Horyuji. This use of natural setting at Muroji is, of course, consistent with the central awareness of nature in traditional Japanese culture and aesthetic values. The construction of Muroji in the forest no doubt reflects also the intent to remove the temple to the quiet of the mountain site, away from the political environment of the capital.

  • Thumbnail for Great Buddha statue at Kamakura
    Great Buddha statue at Kamakura

    The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Kamakura, a representation of Amida Buddha, was cast in 1252. The wooden building that surrounded it was swept away by a tidal wave, but the figure of the Buddha was unharmed and it has withstood repeated earthquakes, fires, and other calamities. It is 13.5 m (about 44 feet) high, making it the second largest statue of the Buddha in Japan, after the Daibutsu of Todaiji, Nara. Built without imperial or shogunal support, completed entirely with donations from the faithful, it is all the more impressive in its heroic scale.

  • Thumbnail for Jizo statues at a temple in Kamakura
    Jizo statues at a temple in Kamakura

    A Jizo is a Buddhist bodhisattva (bosatsu) who is the guardian of the souls of children who have died, as young children or in birth. Persons wishing to offer a prayer for the care of a child often bring a bib or apron or cap to dress one of the Jizo statues, as they ask that it care for the soul of the child in their prayers. These rows of Jizo figures are at the temple, Hasedera, where there is a hall dedicated to Jizo.

  • Thumbnail for Great Buddha sculpture at Kamakura, interior view
    Great Buddha sculpture at Kamakura, interior view

    This rather unusual image is a view of the inside of the sculpture of the Great Buddha at Kamakura, taken half way up the stairs inside the figure, looking up into the head of the figure. The dark circles visible inside the head are the coils of hair of the figure. -- Aside from the remarkable scale of the sculpture, which one senses powerfully as one climbs the stairs inside of the sculpture, the striking feature of this photograph is probably the illustration of the manner in which the sculpture was made, fabricated. It appears that it was cast in sections or plates, which were then assembled to create the finished sculpture (look at the outside of the sculpture in the image, ecasia000062). Also of very particular interest here are "brown" elements on the neck and upper torso of the figure. During the great Tokyo earthquake, the head of the sculpture separated from the rest of the figure and ended up in the lap of the figure. It was mounted back in position but, by the late 1940's or early 1950's, stress cracks had begun to appear in the neck. The brown elements visible here are strips of an early plastic compound that were places on the interior of the neck at that time to attempt to reinforce the structure; there was some doubt that the plastic would prove adequate or that it would retain its strength but, obviously, it has served well. (information re: the reinforcement, thanks to Tokyo metalsmith and sculptor, Kosugi Takuya, former metals professor at the National University for the Arts in Tokyo)

  • Thumbnail for Printed fortunes and prayers, omikuji, at Shinto shrine
    Printed fortunes and prayers, omikuji, at Shinto shrine

    These are folded pieces of paper with printed fortunes or prayers on them, obtained at the local shrine. They are tied here and left at the Shinto shrine in the hope that the kami of the shrine will help to make the fortune come true or help to fulfill the prayer.

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine, Yamagishi neighborhood in Morioka, view from the front of the shrine
    Shinto shrine, Yamagishi neighborhood in Morioka, view from the front of the shrine

    As described in the previous image (ecasia000066) there is a local Shinto shrine on the hillside overlooking the Yamagishi district of the city of Morioka. This is a view front in front of the shrine, looking out across the neighborhood below.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 010,  kondo, central altar sculpture, Standing Shaka
    Muroji, 010, kondo, central altar sculpture, Standing Shaka

    The interior of the kondo, the Golden Hall, at Muroji includes a central area surrounded all around by a corridor. The central area, called the moya, contains an altar with five standing statues. In front of the altar figures are smaller carvings of the twelve generals, attendants of the Yakushi Buddha. The statue shown in this image is the central figure on the altar and represents the Shaka or the Yakushi Buddha. The figure, a large wooden sculpture (perhaps 7 1/2 feet tal), l is an outstanding example of early Heian sculpture, from the mid-ninth century, with traits such as the fullness of the cheeks, the separate coils of the curls in the hair, the sharp division of chest and abdomen, the use of many repeated parallel folds in the carving of the robe, and the overall solemnity of expression. Also noteworthy here is the painted aureole behind the Shaka, which is well preserved and presents images of the seven Buddhas of the past and present world cycles.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 030, Jizo statue from Muroji
    Muroji, 030, Jizo statue from Muroji

    Along the side of the steps up the side of the mountain, one sees this Jizo figure. The Jizo is a spirit that cares for the souls of children who have died and the Jizo statues are very common throughout Japan, especially in temple compounds. The offerings left with this Jizo are interesting and mildly humorous, since the offerings include a container of "One Cup Ozeki," a brand of sake that can be purchased from vending machines. Also interesting are the branches in the vases, which appear to be branches of sakaki, a plant usually associated with Shinto, although there frequently are "cross-overs" between Buddhist and Shinto practices in Japan. (Sake, likewise, is usually associated with the Shinto offerings of sake, salt, and rice, associated with purification, as seen in images from the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka.) Some excellent information in these areas may be found in the Colorado College collection dealing with Japanese religion, materials contributed by Professor David Gardiner.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 006, stone steps from level of entrance gate up to level of kondo and Mirokudo
    Muroji, 006, stone steps from level of entrance gate up to level of kondo and Mirokudo

    As described with the image of the Nio gate at Muroji (image ecasia000004.jpg), one of the disctinctive features of the compound at Muroji is the fact that it is not laid out on a symmetrical axis, oriented along a north-south axis, and all on a level plot (for comparison, e.g., look at the plan of Yakushiji, Nara). From the level of the Nio gate at Muroji, one turns to one's left and ascends this set of stone steps to reach the next level of the compound, where there is a modest sized, open level area that is used for ceremonies. On that level, the kondo is directly ahead of one across from the top of the steps, the Mirokudo is directly to one's left, and the Haiden, an early 20th century addition, is to one's right.

  • Thumbnail for Magazines in bookstore section of a super-store
    Magazines in bookstore section of a super-store

    This section of the magazine rack in a new super-store features offerings for female adolescents. Interestingly, a number of the titles are in English, including magazines titled, Wink Up, Kitty Goods, and Ego system. The color schemes employed in the magazine covers are interesting, also, as reflections of colors seen elsewhere in contemporary Japanese culture.

  • Thumbnail for Store interior, a new "super-store"
    Store interior, a new "super-store"

    This is a view of the interior of a new store in Japan. It is the type of store that would be referred to as a "super store" or "super center" in the U.S. I.e., it carries groceries, drug store items and sundries, stationary, books and magazines, household items, etc. The emergence of this style of retailing is relatively recent in Japan.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 017, Kanjodo,  Main Hall, view in front
    Muroji, 017, Kanjodo, Main Hall, view in front

    This image shows a small rectangular pool, surrounded by a stone fence, and the front façade of the Main Hall, sometimes referred to as the Initiation hall, beyond it. Both are located on a level area on the side of the hill, up a short flight of stone steps from the level of the kondo. The Kanjodo is used for initiation rites in Esoteric Buddhism. Muroji is associated with Shingon, the esoteric sect founded by the priest Kukai in the 8th century, upon his return from study in China. Shingon is the sect known as the "True Word" sect and is rooted in Tantric Buddhism. Kukai is often referred to by his posthumous name, Kobo Daishi, "Great National Teacher."

  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 2
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 2

    View across the pond of the garden at the site of the Heian temple at Hiraizumi, Motsuji. All that remains of the original temple at Motsuji are its foundation stones, but the pond is essentially as it was when built. During the last half of the 20th c., centuries of silt build-up were removed from the pond and from the stream bed feeding the pond, returning the pond to its original form. This view is from the northeastern bank of the pond, looking to the east. Recent research suggests that the stones that are layered along the bank of the pond here were brought a great distance to be placed here, perhaps from the shore of the Inland Sea.

  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 3
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 3

    View across the pond of the garden at the site of the Heian temple at Hiraizumi, Motsuji. This view is from the east - southeast bank of the pond, looking across the spit of land that curls out into the pond. The pond is, of course, artificial, i.e., it is a manmade construction. From that point of view, this peninsula of earth reaching out into the pond becomes as an interesting, deliberate sculptural form and, perhaps, invites comparison with other forms of earthworks created by artists at various times and places in human history.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 021,  five-story pagoda, steps leading up to the pagoda
    Muroji, 021, five-story pagoda, steps leading up to the pagoda

    The pagoda at Muroji is located on a level carved out of the hillside perhaps thirty feet or so (vertically) above the level of the Main Hall and its pool. The stone steps shown here are to the left of the Main Hall and lead one directly up toward the pagoda, enhancing the sense of the height and floating quality of the pagoda, as one ascends the steps.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 019, view Chongqing-Chengdu, Sichuan
    Thorp Collection 019, view Chongqing-Chengdu, Sichuan

    View Chongqing-Chengdu, Sichuan. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 003, Throne Room section - Forbidden City from the air, Beijing
    Thorp Collection 003, Throne Room section - Forbidden City from the air, Beijing

    This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 057, Rice Lands, Wuautow, Zhejiang.
    Thorp Collection 057, Rice Lands, Wuautow, Zhejiang.

    Thorp Collection, Rice Lands, Wuautow, Zhejiang. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, "Altar of Heaven at night, Beijing," the first Thorp image presented in this collection.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 005,  Koi in a small pond near the Nio Gate
    Muroji, 005, Koi in a small pond near the Nio Gate

    On one's left as one walks along the path just inside the Nio gate at Muroji, is a small pond with lilly pads and koi .

  • Thumbnail for Daisenin garden, view 02, east garden from corridor
  • Thumbnail for Tamba pottery, view 02., pots in a shop window
    Tamba pottery, view 02., pots in a shop window

    A group of pots in a shop window show the strong traditional form of Tamba jars. Traditionally made as storage jars, the thick rim allowed a cord to be tied securely around the neck of the jar, to hold a cloth in place to close the mouth of the jar. These bold, simple forms were the result of a direct vocabulary of form handed down through generations of potters over the centuries. The forms were often left totally unglazed and the decoration of the surface would come from the action of the fire and the depositing of ash on the surface, forming a natural glaze, as is the case on the second jar from the left in this photo. The two jars on the right probably had an ash glaze poured on them before they were placed in the kiln and the contrast of the runny dark green ash glaze against the dark iron red of the unglazed clay surfaces creates a dynamic pattern. The two pieces on the right have lugs ("loops" of clay) on their shoulders; originally such lugs were made to allow a lid to be

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 030, on the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) between Fuling-Chongqing, Sichuan.
    Thorp Collection 030, on the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) between Fuling-Chongqing, Sichuan.

    On the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) between Fuling-Chongqing, Sichuan. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 046, effect of salt on cotton, E. Jiangsu
    Thorp Collection 046, effect of salt on cotton, E. Jiangsu

    Effect of salt on cotton, E. Jiangsu. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 008, detail dragon pillar - Forbidden City, Beijing
    Thorp Collection 008, detail dragon pillar - Forbidden City, Beijing

    Detail dragon pillar, Forbidden City, Beijing. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.