Saturday, 25. March 2006
Gods of Japan A to Z
Buddhism in Asia arrived last in Japan, crossing the sea in the early 6th century AD. The Mahayana form in particular spread throughout the islands, thus the majority of surviving Buddhist sculpture in Japan today belongs to the Mahayana tradition. Artwork belonging to the Hinayana (Theravada) and Vajrayana (Esoteric) traditions is less prominent, but it is nonetheless plentiful. Sects from all three schools are still active in Japan, but Mahayana Buddhism remains the most popular form.
Buddhist deities are traditionally classified by Japanese art scholars into four main categories, and the same scheme is used at this web site: THE BUDDHA, THE BOSATSU, THE MYO-O, THE TENBU.
In Buddhist circles, there are Ten Worlds or Ten Levels of Existence.
1. Hell (Beings in Hell -- the lowest level)
2. Hunger (Hungry Ghosts)
3. Animality (Animals)
4. Anger (Ashura)
5. Tranquility (Humans)
6. Rapture (Deva)
7. Learning (Hinayana School, Arhat)
8. Realization (Hinayana School, Arhat)
9. Bodhisattva (Mahayana School, Bosatsu)
10. Buddha (Nyorai, Tathagata, Hotoke -- highest level)
|This photo library and dictionary is a labor of love. After moving to Kamakura in 1993, I became intrigued by the many deities and faces of Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism. There are dozens of temples and shrines near my home, many dating from the 8th to 13th centuries, many open to the public. There are now 1,000+ photos in this library, ranging from the treasures of Kamakura to those of Nara, Kyoto, and elsewhere in Japan. |
Gods of Japan A to Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist & Shinto Deities by Mark Schumacher (English)
Highly recommended! Much more than photo dictionary, you can spent hours here. Superb!
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