On the second day in Nara, I visited the Kohfukuji Temple (a World Heritage Site). I have passed through its precincts before, but it was the first time that I took time to pray and to see there.
Of course, I wanted to see the Central Golden Hall, which was rebuilt for the first time in 300 years and opened last autumn. Nevertheless, now that I am in the Kohfukuji Temple, I cannot leave until I see the statue of Ashura.
The statue of Ashura in the Kohfukuji Temple is very famous for the realistic sad look on its face. "The Exhibition of the National Treasure Ashura" held in Tokyo and Fukuoka in 2009 attracted about 1.95 million people, and an Ashura boom arose in Japan. The number of visitors was far more than the exhibition of Vermeer, ancient Egypt and Da Vinci. Also, I have heard that there is a fan club of the statue of Ashura.
The statue of Ashura is exhibited in the Kohfukuji National Treasure Hall, which was renovated recently. The inside was modern atmosphere, simple and sophisticated such as a picture of Buddha was used for a pictogram.
The statue of Ashura was exhibited with other Buddha statutes and not in a separate room. As I came to the front of the Ashura and faced the handsome features, I couldn't believe that it was made in Nara Period (the 8th century) and didn't look old at all. I wondered what the characteristic face with a frown showed. Maybe it did suffering, frustration and sadness. The site that Ashura fought with Taishakuten was called "Shuraba" in Japanese, which means a dreadful scene.
The statue of Ashura is a dry-lacquered one and its weight is only 15 kilograms, so they could take it out every time the temple was struck by repeated fires. That is why the statue is still remains. At any rate, it's amazing that in the Kohfukuji Temple, there are 18 Buddha statues out of 136 ones designated as national treasures in Japan.
It is said that the Kohfukuji Temple was a huge one that there were 10,000 priests at its peak. Since its foundation, the Central Golden Hall was burnt down seven times and the eighth rebuilding was completed last October. At the ceremony to celebrate the completion, the chief priest read in the announcement as follows.
The golden hall of the Heisei era.
We pledge to keep it long with the heaven, the earth and the years.
Although it sounded a quiet poem, what I felt was a solemn vow for the future and passion. (H.S)
The signboard in front of the National Treasure Hall
The reconstructed Central Golden Hall
It is about the same size as Daigokuden of Heijo-kyu Palace.
Looking up at the Central Golden Hall
The Five-Storied Pagoda and the Eastern Golden Hall viewed from the square in front of the Central Golden Hall (Both are national treasures)
Goshuin (ink writing and stamp that are given at a shrine or a temple) of the Kohfukuji Temple
You can choose one among five designs.
Japanese deers in Nara Park on their break
Originally the Nara Park was the precincts of the Kohfukuji Temple. It recalls the vastness of the past.
The video is from Kyodo News YouTube channel.
The Central Golden Hall of the Kohfukuji Temple was rebuilt (2'02")