Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Kubizuka, memorial stone pagodas and mounds
for the beheaded ... 首塚

Kubizuka, grave or tomb for a head, a mound and stone memorial beneath which tradition says the head of a beheaded, killed person rests. The wrath of a beheaded person can be terrifying, so some memorial stones or even Shinto shrines were errected in the places where the beheading took place.

People who died a violent death used to come back and haunt the living; they were called "vengeful spirits" onryoo 御霊、怨霊 Onryo.
Read my article about the most fearful of them all:

- Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 - .


This is a small memorial shrine at the place of execution in the east of Tsuyama town, where I live. It was used until the end of the Edo period to behead people found guilty by the government.
More than 1000 heads were cut off here.

Let us look at some famous head mounds in Japan.


Iruka Soga's Kubizuka

Iruka Soga's Kubizuka, Asuka, Asuka Village. It is located on the edge of rice field, about 100 m west of Asuka-dera temple. It is probably the oldest one in Japan.

This stone monument, reportedly made in the Kamakura Period (1285-1333), indicates the mound where Iruka Soga (蘇我 入鹿, ?-645)'s heads were allegedly buried.

He was assassinated by Prince Naka-no-Oe (中大兄皇子), Saeki-no-muraji-komaro (佐伯連子麻呂) and Kazuraki-no-waka-Inukai-no-muraji-Amita (葛城稚犬養網田) in the presence of the 35th Empress Kogyoku (皇極天皇, 594-661; r.642-645)* at the Asuka-Itabuki-no-miya Palace (飛鳥板葺宮), which is called "Isshi-no-hen" (乙巳の変; the Murder in the Year of Isshi ) on June 12, 645.

Empress Kogyoku, deeply shocked at the murder, soon abdicated the throne to the 36th Emperor Kotoku (孝徳天皇, 596?-654; r.645-554).

The Soga-clan was a very powerful family who took over the reins of government and killed Shotoku-taishi (聖徳太子)'s son Prince Yamashiro-no-Oe (山背大兄皇子), but they were perished in 645 by Prince Naka-no-Oe (中大兄皇子; later Tenji-tenno [天智天皇], 626-678;r.668-671) and Kamatari Nakatomi (中臣鎌足, 614-669), the founder of the Fujiwara clan (藤原氏). It is called "Taika-no-Kaishin" (大化の改新; the Reformation of the Taika Era).

After Emperor Kotoku's death, Ex-Empress Kogyoku retook the throne and became the 37th Empress Saimei (斉明天皇, r.665-661) for a complicated reason.

Copyright (c) 2006 Eishiro Ito. All rights reserved.
© Atelier Aterui with more information !

Read more:
First and Last of the Soga / Kubizuka in Asuka


The famous head mound of Masakado in Tokyo

The body of Taira Masakado, first buried in what is now Marunouchi, was stolen by his friend and buried somewhere near the shrine Kanda Myojin. His head was severed by Fujiwara no Hidesato and had been buried in various places in Edo, carrying its curse with it ... Masakado has a shrouded Force, best left alone...

. Taira no Masakado 平将門 (? – 940) .
- Introduction -

WIKIPEDIA : Taira no Masakado

. . . . . 首塚の歴史

Daruma Museum
Kuyoo Mon ... 九曜紋 ...Nine Stars Crest ... and Taira no Masakado 平将門

gokei 五刑 five judicial penalties
keijoo, keijō 刑場 execution ground
Kodenma-choo, Kodenma-chō 小伝馬町 Kodenma-cho prison in Edo
rooya 牢屋 prison, jail
shokei 処刑 execution
. Criminal Punishment in Edo .


Tamanawa Kubizuka 玉縄首塚由来(怨親平等)
Kamakura Town


This is a mound where 35 warriors (the Watauchi Fukuhara and Ofuna Amakasu clan) killed in battle are buried. They were trying to repel an attack against Kamakura of Mr. Awa Satomi's in 1526. There are six Jizo in a row.

On August 19, an annual festival is held with memorial services and lighted lanterns are launched on the water - a custom called Toro-nagashi.

© Kamakura Town



One more story from the history of Kamakura

The Tomb of Prince Morinaga (護良親王の墓)
It is surrounded by stone hedges at the top of a steep 120-step stairway.

The Taiheiki (太平記, Chronicle of the Great Peace), a story of the wars between the Northern and Southern Courts during the period 1318-1367, relates in detail the death of Prince Morinaga (a.k.a. Moriyoshi, 1308-35).

Fuchinobe Yoshihiro (淵野辺義博), the man who had killed Prince Morinaga, was due to take the head to his master, Ashikaga Tadayoshi, but he hesitated, feeling that the victim’s eyes continued to glare as if he were still alive. So, instead, he threw the head into some bushes.

Upon hearing of this, a priest from Richikoji Temple (理智光寺) retrieved the head and buried it here. This area falls within the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency.

© Kamakura: History & Historic Sites


Sakanoue no Tamuramaro 坂上田村麻呂
(758 - 811)
and the head mounds in the Tohoku region.

. Sakanoue no Tamuramaro .


Kubizuka Daimyojin Shrine 首塚大明神
京都府京都市右京区 - Kyoto

- quote
... near Oinosaka Pass on Rte 9, is a popular tourist attraction as well as a major haunted spot in Kyoto. It is believed that Shuten-doji, a leader of mysticism and magic, was killed by Minamoto Yorimitsu and his head was buried here in the Heian period.

The shrine has a gloomy and sinister feel even in daytime. You feel your body become heavy on a sudden even if you are not spiritually sensitive. Photographs taken here will get innumerable orbs floating all over. Rumor has it that people get cursed once passing through the torii gate, or that a lady with downcast eyes always stands at a bus stop in the midnight.
- source : guides-japan.com

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. 酒呑童子 Shuten Doji and the Rashomon Gate .

- quote
Shuten Dooji Shuten-dōji 酒呑童子 Shuten Doji
also sometimes called 酒顛童子, 酒天童子, or 朱点童子)
is a mythical oni leader who lived in Mt. Ooe (大江山) of Tamba Province or Mt. Ooe (大枝) on the boundary between Kyoto and Tamba in Japan. He was based in a palace somewhat like a Ryūgū-jō on Mt. Ooe, and he had many oni subordinates.
Various birth legends
- Shuten-doji, according to one legend, was born at Ganbara, Echigo.
- He, who was born in Echigo in the Heian era (8th century) when Dengyō Daishi and Kōbō-Daishi were active, became a page of the Kokojou-ji (国上寺) (in Tsubame, Niigata) (at the base of Mt. Kugami, there is a Chigo-dou where he is said to have passed through).
- He, who was born from the large snake Yamata no Orochi and a human girl, was a page at Mount Hiei from an early age, and underwent training, but he drank sake which was forbidden by Buddhism, and in face was a big drinker, and was therefore hated by everyone.
- From the Kamakura era to the Heian era, he was an “oni” who lawlessly ran amok in the capital, and he was based in Mt. Ooe in the Tamba Province, or the Ooe in Nishikyō-ku, Kyoto, also known as Oi no Saka (老ノ坂) (within the Rakusai district of Kyoto) as well as the neighboring Shinochououji, Kameoka.

- He was a page for the Byakugō-ji in the Yamato province (presently, Nara Province), but found a corpse at a nearby mountain, and due to curiosity, brought that meat back to the temple, and made his priest teacher eat it without telling him that it was human meat.
Afterwards, the page frequently brought back meat, not only from the flesh of corpses, but also by murdering live humans and returning with their flesh. The priest, who thought that it was suspicious, followed after the page, discovered the truth, harshly criticized the page, and abandoned him in a mountain. The page later became Shuten-doji, and it has been said that the place where he was abandoned was thus called “chigo-saka” (page-hill).
- According to another theory, he was a child of the chief priest of Byakugō-ji, but as he matured, he grew fangs and a horn, and later became a child as rough as a beast. The priest was embarrassed by this child, so the child was abandoned, but the child later came to Mt. Ooe, and became Shuten-doji.

As one of the three great evil yokai
It has been often said that Shuten-doji was the strongest oni of Japan, who, along with the white-faced golden-furred nine-tailed fox Tamamo-no-mae, and Emperor Sutoku who became a Daitengu as a result of resentment, are called one of the “three great evil yokai.”
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

kumo no mine ni hiji suru Shuten Dooji kana

Shuten Doji
rests his ellbow on a peak
of billowing clouds . . .


GOOGLE with 首塚 for more photos !


Japanese Ghosts and Ghost Stories, kaidan 怪談

My Stone Memorials Photo Album has more !

Mark Schumacher


. . . . . . . . H A I K U

kubizuka ni rozario hitotsu gaku no hana

on the head mound
just one rosary -

Kashiwara Min-U 柏原眠雨


hana akari joji ni kubizuka hitotsu mori

bright cherry blossoms -
by the roadside just one
head mound   

Yamanaka   山中西放


首塚の あたり三つ四つ 姫ホタル
kubizuka no atari mitsu yotsu hime botaru

by the head mound
three, four
princess fireflies

Tamura Michio  村田通夫


teki mikata naki kubizuka ya chichiro fumu

no more friend, nor enemy
at the head mound -
I step on a cricket

Mizushima Ya-u 水島夜雨


ishi o tsumu dake no kubizuka kotori kuru

just some stones
piled up for a head mound -
little birds come by

Kuriyama Keiko 栗山恵子

all translations by Gabi Greve

- #kubizuka -

Senbutsu Clay Tiles



Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Clay Tiles with Buddha Figures / Senbutsu 甎仏
せんぶつ, 磚仏, せん仏, repousse Buddha figures

SEN 專 means clay tile.

Simple clay tiles, which can be just dried hard or fired. Forms range from anything round to square. The clay is pressed into wooden molds with figures of Buddhist deities. This way, a lot of figures could be produced.
Sometimes they were covered with laquer or godl foil later.

They made their way from India via China to Japan in the 7th century.

These tiles could be used to decorate the interior of a temple. Sometimes they were put into the private altar of a family for daily reverence.

Here is a figure I bought many years ago in India.

In Bodhgaya a young boy came along with this figure, approaching the Japanese tourists saying "This very old, hyaku doru, hyaku doru!" Next he came to us and wanted "Hundred dollars please". I told him: "I am sure your brother made this outside the village, it is worth nothing. I will give you one dollar!"
"Oh, thank you, here you are!" He handed me the statue and I had to pay him.
It now graces my bookshelf to remind me of the foolishness of mankind!

..... ..... .....

This one is from a Chinese temple, this time cheap to start with.

..... ..... .....

A small face of Ebisu, the God of Good Luck. Sold in a Japanese temple.


Read JAANUS about Clay Tiles with Buddhist images .


Tiles From the History Museum in Sennan Town / Osaka



Deity of the TEN group. A bit of black laquer is left on the tile.



Barely recognizable, Buddha seated below the Bodai Tree in Meditation. Above the seated statue ther was a large baldachin (tengai).
The form was found near the temples Tachibanadera and Kawaharadera in Nara prefecture.



...................... Also on this LINK

Seated Nyorai made from clay

Statue from wood and clay

© Sennan Museum Osaka


Tile from temple Oharahai-Ji
From the Nara period.

© Kurayoshi Town Museum, Tottori


© Photo Miho Museum


My Photo Album with more Senbutsu

Making Buddha statues


Tachikibutsu Trees



Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Tachikibutsu - Trees with carved Buddha Statues

Literally it means "standing tree with Buddha".

Read my article about Mastercarver Enku and his Living Statues.

PHOTO © Honda San

Enku, the Master Carver 円空 (Enkuu)


Carved by Nishimura Kocho in 1975, Kyoto, Zengan-Ji 善願寺
in a keya tree (Torreya nucifera)

京都 醍醐 善願寺の 榧の木不動.
source : facebook

. Nishimura Koochoo 西村公朝 Nishimura Kocho .


CLICK to see more photos !

A carver would select a tree in a certain location and carve his statue in the living tree, sometimes using a ladder to climp high up for the head. The tree was often located in a sacred forest on a sacred mountain. They have been carved as long ago as in the eighth century and found oftne in Eastern Japan.
Here Buddhist beliefs and animistic worldviews find their combination.

The simply carved figures were sometimes painted, but more often they are left as nature made the colors. Camphor trees (kusu no ki 樟), the Japanese Judas tree (katsura 桂), firs (momi 樅) and the Japanese cedar (sugi 杉) were most often used.

Famous Living Tree Statues:

Tachiki Kannon 立木観音 at Anyoo-Ji 安養寺, Shiga prefecture

Chuuzen-Ji Tachiki Kannon 中禅寺「立木観音」

Senjuu Kannon 千手観音 at Temple Rinnoo-Jji 輪王寺, Tochigi prefecture.
Made of a Japanese Judas tree. The statue was carved by Saint Shoodoo「勝道上人」(しょうどうしょうにん), founder of the Chuuzen-Ji Temple in 784.
It is now inside a protecting temple hall.

Temple Rinnoji . 日光山 輪王寺


Tsubaki san, Sacred Camellia Tree in Shimoyama, Tamba Village

This tree is said to help you when your teeth are acheing.
The legend goes back more than 400 years.

During the times before the unification in the Edo period, a lord who had lost a battle and was trying to hide away in the backwoods with a huge wound, stopped here in the village and realized death was near. He told the villagers: "When I die, I will make a strong spell, and when you burry me and plant a camellia tree on my grave here, anyone who will come to pray will be healed of toothache."
Until the advent of modern medicine, the villagers took the leaves, make a brew and heal toothache.

© www.kyoto-np.co.jp


just googeling

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

My Album with Tachiki Butsu Trees

. shinboku 神木, shinju 神樹 sacred tree, divine tree .  
in Shinto Shrines

. Kodama, the Tree Spirit .




Yugasan Fudo



Fudo Myo-O Gallery


Yugasan Fudo 由加山厄除不動
Temple Rendai-Ji 蓮台寺
Okayama Prefecture, Kurashiki

This altar is 7m 59cm high, the statue itself 366cm. This is the number of days in a year plus one. So he will protect us during this year and reaching over to the next one.

The statue was made by te sculptor Araki Kei-un 荒木啓運師 from Kyoto. The black body of Fudo is sourrounded by the red mandorla.

This Fudo will protect you from evil and disaster.

You can by a tablet (fuda) and write your name and wish on it. It will be placed inside the staute to fulfill your prayers.

Fudo Image to protect you from disaster

Copyright(c) 2002 Yugasan All rights reserved.

This temple is located in Okayama prefecture, on the slopes of Mount Yugasan 由加山.
It is a place where the deities of Shinto and Buddhism are still toghter, as a "Shrine-Temple, shaji 社寺".
For the shrine, the deity is called Yuga Daigongen 瑜伽大権現.
On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea is the Konpira Daigongen. During the Edo period, pilgrims would start off here and then take the ship to Shikoku to visit both Gongen. The village at the foot of the temple was full of cheap places to stay over night.

The temple has been founded by Gyoki Bosatsu. He had 600 volumes of the Great Hanya Sutra copied and burried in the ground of the pagoda. The old name of the temple was

The temple was also under the protection of the lord of Okayama, the Ikeda clan. On the slabs of the fence around this shrine (tamagaki 玉垣) you can read names of pilgrims from all over Japan, for example the rich merchant from Edo, Shiobara Daisuke 塩原太助.

Konpira Daigongen is still an acitve deity as protector of the sea and fishing, whereas Yuga Daigongen is not that specific. It fell into inactivity at the end of the Edo period. There are few tourists now, none visiting twice, and very few pilgrims.

CLICK for more photos
Yuga Daigogen Shrine 由加大権現
Yuga Jinja 由加神社

The temple Rendai-Ji is responsible for burrials and Buddhist service.

CLICK for enlargement
Click for enlargement

Rirakkuma, Rilakkuma リラックマ 御守り  Relax Bear Amulet
. Toys and Talismans from Japan . 


Araki Keiun, Araki Kei-Un 荒木啓運
Buddhist Sculptor Workshop in Kyoto


source : 荒木啓運

Who made Buddha Statues ?
Mark Schumacher

Buddhist Sculptors Gallery


Daruma Museum
Objects inside a Buddha statue (tainai butsu)

Konpira Daigongen . 金毘羅大権現
Kompira Daigongen . Kotohira, Shikoku

Gyoki Bosatsu Gyooki 行基菩薩





Making a Statue



Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Making a Buddha Statue


Robes, Drapery, & Folds in Garments

Mark Schumacher

PMJS: Premodern Japanese Studies

Mark has listed the most important items in this field, please refer to his page for the Chinese characters and more illustrations.

Here I give the German from my own book about Buddha statues.
Click on the thumbnails to see more samples.


Material und Herstellungsverfahren der Statuen

. . . . . Materialien:

Holz (mokuzai): Zeder (sugi), Kiefer (matsu), Nußeibe (kaya), Dufthölzer (sendan) u.a..
Metall (kinzoku): Bronze (doo), Goldbronze (doo-mekki), Eisen (tetsu) u.a..
Steine (sekizai), einfachem oder gebackenem Lehm (senbutsu 甎仏), Trockenlack (kanshitsu), Elfenbein (zooge 象牙) u.a.

© shirakawa history
Senbutsu Lehm from the Heian Period, Temple Kariyadohai-Ji

Daruma Museum
Clay Tiles with Buddha Figures / Senbutsu 甎仏

.. .. .. .. ..

Ivory , Elfenbein 象牙

... ... ...

Manchmal wurde der Namen des Stifters hinzugefügt, entweder auf einer verborgenen Schriftrolle in einer Höhlung im Rücken oder im Sockel oder eingeritzt auf dem Rücken, der Fußsohle oder dem Sockel. Im Inneren einer großen Statue wurden auch kleine Statuen (Buddhas im Leibesinneren, tainai butsu) oder Sutras verborgen. Die Namen des Statuen~meisters bzw. Schnitzers oder Bildhauers (busshi) finden sich nur selten.

Daruma Museum
Tainai Butsu 胎内佛, 胎内仏 Buddhas inside a Statue

In Japan sind Holzstatuen am häufigsten. Es gibt Statuen aus einem Stück Holz (ichiboku zukuri) oder aus meheren Holzteilen (yosegi, yoseki) zusammengefügt. Statuen aus mehreren Holzteilen finden sich seit der Asuka-Zeit, in der eine Art Massenproduktion begann.


. . . . . Reihenfolge bei der Herstellung einer Holzstatue:

1. Zeichnen eines Plans (zutori)
2. Fällen eines geeigneten Baums (kidori). Dabei wurden vom Statuenmeister Gebete an den Baum gesprorchen (misogi kaji) und dann der erste Axthieb getan (onohajime). Der Statuenmeister tat die ersten drei Axthiebe. Danach taten die Holzfäller ihr Werk (soma hajime).

Erster Axthieb, ono hajime 斧初め

3. Grobes Schnitzen der Figur, bis zu 50 Prozent fertig (arabori).
4. Erarbeiten der Details (kozukuri).
5. Feinbearbeitung (shiage).
Für die Schritte 3. und 4. wurde oft ein kleines Hackbeil verwendet (natabori)

natabori  鉈彫 仏像

Ab der 3. Stufe läßt sich in etwa die Form der Figur ahnen.

Bei Holzfiguren wurde oft im Rückenteil von unten (uchiguri) oder hinten (seguri) ein Hohlraum geschaffen, um Verziehungen durch Trockenvorgänge zu vermeiden und die Statuen einfacher transportabel zu machen. Da es in den Holztempeln früher oft zum Brand kam, wurden immer als erstes die Statuen geretten, manchmal auch nur der Kopf einer Statue, der aus diesem Grund besonders leicht abnehmbar geschaffen wurde (warikubi hozo).

warikubi hozo 割首ほぞ

Besondere Bäume im Gebirge, die nach einem Blitzschlag noch standen oder anderweitig durch ihre Gestalt auffällig waren, wurden als Gottheit verehrt (shinboku, reiboku) und mit wenigen Meißelschlägen in den lebenden Baum eine Buddhastatue eingeritzt (tachiki butsu). Manchmal wurden diese Bäume dann an der Wurzel abgesägt und in Hallen aufgestellt.

tachiki butsu 立木仏

Daruma Museum
Buddha Statues in Living Trees / Tachiki butsu

In der Kamakura-Zeit wurden Holzstatuen häufig durch Muster verziert, die mit Lehm angebracht und dann bemalt wurden (domon). Sie ergaben einen besonders dreidimensionalen Aspekt.


. . . . . Herstellung von Metallstatuen:

Bei der Herstellung verschiedenartiger Gußformen (chuuzoo, chūzō) zeigt sich der Fortschritt der Bronzeverarbeitungs-Technologie. Im alten Japan wurde allerdings überwiegend das einfachere Einmal-Verfahren (soogata) eingesetzt. Später finden wir das Gießen in verlorener Form mit Wachs (roogata), mit Holzformen (kigata) oder Lehmformen (dogata). Besonders große Metallfiguren wurden in Teil-Holzformen von unten nach oben hochgearbeitet oder zunächst als liegende Figuren gegossen (kigarakuri). Fertige Bronzefiguren wurden nach dem Guß besonders poliert (isarai).

Um vergoldete Bronzebuddhas (kondoobutsu) herzustellen, waren die Formen aus Wachs. Wachs wurde aus Bienenwaben gewonnen und mit Kiefernharz und Öl versetzt, um es gut formbar zu machen. Nach diesen Wachsmodellen wurden Grundformen (gengata) hergestellt.

kondoobutsu 金銅仏

Nach einem anderen Verfahren (verlorene Form) wurde eine innere Form (nakagata) gefertigt, mit Wachs überzogen und ausmodelliert. Darüber wurde die äußere Form (gaikei) aus Lehm angebracht. Damit sich die innere Form nicht bewegte, wurde sie mit Kernstützen (katamochi) gestützt; die Stützen wurden nach dem Gießen herausgenommen und die Löcher mit dem gleichen Material aufgefüllt, so daß diese Stellen später nicht mehr zu erkennen waren. Durch die Wachsmodellierung ließen sich feinste Details herausarbeiten, allerdings konnte jeweils nur eine identische Figur hergestellt werden.

Die Vergoldung erfolgte entweder durch Feuervergoldung mit erhitztem Amalgam oder durch Auftragen von feinster Goldfolie (kinpaku). In der Verarbeitung von Goldfolie erwiesen sich die Japaner bald als Meister.

Einfache Figuren wurden aus Metallplatten herausgehämmert (tsuichoo zukuri), als Halbrelief herausgehämmert (oshidashibutsu) oder linienförmit eingraviert (kebori). Eine Sonderform ist dabei das Gravieren von kleinen Punkten nebeneinander (keribori), um das Motiv darzustellen.

Halbrelief-Figuren von Heilswesen auf Bronzeplatten
oshidashibutsu 押出仏

Die einzelnen Schmuckteile einer Figur wurden meist von einem gesonderten Meister (kazari busshi) angebracht. Sie brachten auch Haare, Barthaare usw. aus gesondertem Material an einer vollendeten Figur an (uetsuke).

Während der verschiedenen historischen Epochen wurden verschiedene Materialien für die Herstellung von Buddhafiguren bevorzugt.


. . . . . Steinfiguren 石仏

Steinfiguren sind in Indien und China häufiger, da sich in Japan nur wenig geeignetes Material findet. In Japan sieht man häufig kleine Figuren von Jizoo oder Kannon Bosatsu am Wegrand und an Wegkreuzungen.

Eine Version der Steinstatuen sind oft riesige Reliefdarstellungen in Felswänden (magaibutsu). Diese Form findet sich häufig in Zentralasien, China und auch in Korea. In Japan fehlen geeignete Felswände und diese Form ist selten. Die wichtigsten Beispiele finden sich in Usuki, Kyuushuu. Da derartige Statuen Wind und Wetter und in Japan besonders Regen und Feuchtigkeit ausgesetzt sind, finden wir sie heute meist in einem stark verwitterten Zustand. Restaurationsarbeiten sind schwierig.


. . . . . Trockenlackverfahren 乾漆

In der Nara-Zeit waren Tonplastiken und Trockenlack-Figuren am häufigsten. Sie gestatteten eine bessere Detailgestaltung als Holzschnitzereien. Später wurden sie aber kaum noch ausgeführt. Trockenlack-Figuren haben einen stabilisierenden Kern (shinboo) aus Ton, der mit in Lacklösung getränktem Hanfstoff überzogen wurde; es folgten mehrere Schichten Stoff und Lack. Zum Modellieren wurde dann Lack mit Holzspänen und Stroh versetzt und aufgetragen. Nach der Vollendung wurde der Tonkern entfernt und durch ein leichtes stützendes Holzgestell ersetzt
Derartige Figuren eigneten sich besonders zum Umhertragen in Prozessionen, da sie relativ leicht waren.
Trockenlack-Figuren sind relativ unempfindlich gegen Feuchtigkeit, chemische Zersetzung und Ungeziefer.

Bei Tonplastiken wurde ein Holzkern mit Ton überzogen, bis eine rohe Figur fertiggestellt war. Darüber kamen Schichten von feinem Ton gemischt mit Leinenstoffen. Die letzte Schicht zum endgültigen Modellieren bestand aus feinstem Ton mit Bindemittel und kleinen Papierschnitzeln oder Tierhaaren. Die Oberfläche erhielt dann noch einen Überzug von feinem weißem Muschelkalk mit Zusatz von Glimmerpulver, das Glanz geben, den Trocknungsvorgang beschleunigen und die Gefährdung durch Feuchtigkeit mindern sollte. Darüber befand sich dann häufig noch eine Farbschicht, die aber heute meist verloren ist.

Die meisten Holz- und Trockenlackstatuen wurden abschließend mit Goldlack überzogen. Entweder wurde Blattgold direkt auf dem Holz angebracht oder das Holz zunächst mit einer Schicht Hanfstoff überzogen, diese lackiert und geglättet und darauf das Blattgold angebracht (kinpaku-oshi). Für das Gesicht verwendete man meist sieben Schichten Blattgold, für den Körper fünf Schichten und für Nimbus und Sockel drei Schichten. Derartige Statuen nennt man "Statuen mit Lackbeschichtung" (shippakuzoo 漆箔像).

kinpakuoshi 金箔押し

© Gabi Greve
Buddhastatuen (Buddhastatues) Who is Who
Ein Wegweiser zur Ikonografie von japanischen Buddhastatuen


- quote -
kanshitsu 乾漆
Also kanshitsuzou 乾漆像, kanshitsu-zukuri 乾漆造.
Dry lacquer technique. A technique used to produce Buddhist images brought from China in the late 7c and in Japan throughout the Nara period. In documents from the Nara period kanshitsu was refered to as *soku 即, or the Chinese term *kyoucho 夾紵. There were two types of dry lacquer technique. One was the hollow dry lacquer method *dakkatsu kanshitsu 脱活乾漆, and the other was the wood-core dry lacquer method *mokushin kanshitsu 木心乾漆. The hollow dry lacquer technique was the first to be used in Japan, and was popular during the Hakuhou and Nara periods.

A rough core was first modelled in clay and then layers of hemp cloth soaked in lacquer were applied over the surface, each layer being left to dry before the next layer was added. The clay core was then removed, forming a lightweight hollow statue. A wooden framework was often fitted inside the statue to prevent it warping. Surface details were modelled with a thick paste known as *kokuso-urushi 木屎漆: a mixture of lacquer, flour, and wood-powder. In wood-core dry lacquer statues the basic shape of the statue was first carved in wood, and then lacquer was applied over the wood. Layers of hemp cloth were used as for the hollow dry lacquer statue, and surface details were added using kokuso-urushi. The lacquer layer tended to be between 1-3cm thick; as the technique developed during the Nara period, the wooden core was carved to an increasing degree of precision and the lacquer layer was made gradually thinner.
- source : JAANUS


The biggest Dry Laquer Buddha of its kind
Gifu - Shoohooji 正法寺 Shoho-Ji

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The Gifu Great Buddha is 13.7 meters tall, with ears 2.1 meters long and nose 0.4 meters high. The face measures 3.6 meters.
Along with the Great Buddhas at Nara and Kamakura, it is one of the three great Buddha portrait statues in Japan. It was finished in 1832, during the Edo Period (1603-1868) after 38 years of construction. It is designated as an important cultural asset of Gifu prefecture.

The construction technique used for the statue was to first make molds with wood, bamboo, and clay, then layering the molds with Japanese paper decorated with Buddhist sutra, a second layer of Japanese lacquer, and a third and final layer of gilding. This is the largest statue in Japan constructed by this technique. It is known and loved as the “Basket Buddha,” because of its woven bamboo framework, which resembles a basket.

The serene and dignified Buddha smiling down upon his visitors makes the hall a healing and soothing space.
- source : www.gifucvb.or.jp




Tainai Butsu internal organs



Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Tainai Butsu 胎内佛, 胎内仏

A small statue within a larger Buddha statue.
TAINAI means literally "inside the womb". 胎内仏
体内 means literally "inside the body". 体内仏

... ... ...

From the temple Reisui-Ji
Inside a statue of Kannon Bosatsu

© biwa ne kazan


Statue of Shotoku Taishi 胎内仏・聖徳太子像
Temple Ryuzen-Ji, Tokyo




© 龍善寺

x-ray with the sutras inside


Ushiku Daibutsu Temple 牛久大仏

Memorial Service for All Generations
Eidai Kuyoo 永代供養(胎内仏)

Even in our modern times, you can buy a small statue and insert a sutra with the name and dates of a loved one passed away. The statue will then be placed in the mortuary of the temple Ushku Daibutsu. There priests will say prayers in the morning and evening of each day.

© Ushiku Daibutsu


At the temple housing Nozaki Kannon in Osaka, you can make a financial donation to support the temple and get a small Kannon Statue, which will be placed inside a larger one of any of the 16 famous Arhat statues.

野崎観音 慈眼寺 
〒574-0015   大阪府大東市野崎
© 野崎観音



Dainichi Nyorai Statue by Unkei
After an X-ray examination a small five-tired pagoda was visible inside the statue.



© 山本勉 : 日本の美術 (No.374) 至文堂


There may be other things placed inside a statue, called "offerings inside a statue, zoonai noonyuuhin 像内納入品

© JAANUS : a few quotes

... ... ... ... ... zounai nounyuuhin

Also nounyuuhin 納入品, tainai nounyuuhin 胎内納入品, tainai nounyuubutsu 胎内納入物.

Objects found in the inner hollow of a Buddhist statue. There are a great variety of zounai nounyuuhin, and items including written documentation have been especially useful to scholars investigating the origin and history of Buddhist figures.

Paper items include: prayers recorded in writing by the donor of the statue, zouryuuganmon 造立願文;
names of petitioners aspiring to the Buddhist faith, kechien koumyouchou 結縁交名帳;
copies of sutras; and Buddhist prints, inbutsu 印仏 and suribotoke 摺仏.

Wooden items include plaques bearing the sculptor's signature, date, and other information about construction; miniature stupas, gorintou 五輪塔; and small Buddhist figures, tainaibutsu 胎内仏.

There are also reliquaries made of crystal, precious metals, stone or lacquer, containing bones of the Buddha, shari 舎利. Other zounai nounyuuhin include glass vessels, coins, jewels, mirrors, fabrics, grain, medicine, and household items.

Sutras and relics inside a figure are believed to give the statue its soul, investing it with the spirit of a living being, a concept known as shoujin shisou 生身思想.

Early Japanese examples are the Yakushi Nyoraizou 薬師如来像in Toushoudaiji Kondou 唐招堤寺金堂 (Nara), which has coins enclosed in the skirts of the statue, and Senju Kannonzou 千手観音像 in Touji Jikidou 東寺食堂 (Kyoto), where relics are contained in the byakugou 白毫 (forehead curl), and cypress fans (hiougi 桧扇) in carved out hollows under the arms.

In wooden statuary, hollowing techniques, uchiruri 内刳, and building figures from hollow joined blocks, yoseki-zukuri 寄木造, developed during the Heian period (9-12c), making large spaces in the bellies of the statue available for zounai-nounyuuhin. This culminated in the Kamakura period (13c), when the quantity and variety of examples are greatest.

Read more here :


Treasures inside Inuki Fudo Myo-O, Shogon-Ji

Yugasan Fudo Myo-O 由加山厄除不動 where you can by a tablet to be put inside the statue


Temple Seiganto-Ji in Nachi, Wakayama
Nr. 1 Temple of the Saigoku Pilgrimage
Inside the statue of Nyoirin Kannon was a small statue of Kannon made from gold.

西国第一番: 那智山 青岸渡寺

© Wikipedia

© Seiganto-ji Temple Nyoirin Kannon Statue


The inner organs, gozoo roppu 五臓六腑

According to the old Chinese medicine, these are
the five full organs (heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys), and
the six hollow organs (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder and reproductive organs).
Daruma Museum: The Medicine Buddha

When eating something especially delicous there is the saying

gozoo roppu ni shimiwataru 五臓六腑に染み渡る
this spreads around nicely in my inner organs.

Here is the famous statue of Shaka Nyorai, which was introduced from China in 987. Inside are small paintings and other items. One of the most spectacular are the "inner organs" gozou roppu. They even include a small umbilical cord. They were made from silk material. Now, they are a national treasure of Japan.


Here is the statue of Temple Seiryo-Ji



. Seiryooji 清涼寺 Temple Seiryo-Ji
Shakado 釈迦堂 The Shaka Hall .


More items with suributsu 摺仏, printed pictures of Buddhist context on paper found inside of statues. They were called inbutsu  印仏 in the Nara period and "suributsu" in the Heian period。

GOOGLE with Tainaibutsu 胎内仏


For more about Buddha Statues

Mark Schumacher


A little Daruma talisman, containing a small seated statue of Kobo Daishi.

This is a modern version of the "inside" concept.

Temple Nr. 82, Negoro-ji, is located in the middle of a dense forest on a high mountain. There again I found a little red talisman of Daruma with a hole in the back, but this time a little frog was peeking out of it.

At temple Shiramine-ji (White Peak Temple), Shikoku


Im Inneren einer großen Statue wurden auch kleine Statuen (Buddhas im Leibesinneren, tainai butsu, tainaibutsu) oder Sutras verborgen.


ka no koe no urotsuku gozoo roppu kana

the buzz of mosquitoes
hovers around
my inner organs

. Kaneko Tohta, Kaneko Tota 金子兜太 .

. Voices of Animals .

the five and six inner organs
and their effect on each other