Kuhonbutsu Amida


Fudo Myo-O Gallery


Kuhonbutsu Amida

Please check this first , if you are not familiar with
Amida Buddha:

. Amida Nyorai  


Takahama Kyoshi, the famous haiku poet, used this expression

haikai kuhonbutsu 俳諧九品仏

to describe the various levels of haiku poets.

Some are very skillful and famous, others are just beginners and trying hard, but all are welcome in the family of haiku poets and in the Paradise of the West. Even the ones who do not write haiku and only enjoy to read them.

Kyoshi also said

haiku wa gokuraku no bungaku desu ga,
jigoku no urazuke.

Haiku is the poetry of the "Western Paradise",
but with the full knowledge and experience of hell.

He lost one of his daughters when she was still very young. This strong experience showed in his haiku and in his life. He had a strong attraction to the "paradise in the west, gokuraku" of Amida Buddha.
He had a gravestone erected at Mt. Koya and services were read in his honor while he was still alive. He was well aware of the fleeting moment of a human life.

. 高浜 虚子, Takahama Kyoshi
22 February 1874—8 April 1959


Let us study more about these nine stages,
which are expressed in the
nine hand positions (mudra) of Amida

source : kenji noguchi

Also read Amida kubon-in.
"Mudras of the nine grades of Amida."

The Pure Land joudo 浄土 into which Amida 阿弥陀 (Sk: Amitabha/Amitayus) welcomes his devotees is divided into nine "grades," kubon/kuhon 九品.
These range from the "upper grade: upper birth," joubon joushou 上品上生, to the "lower grade: lower birth," gebon geshou 下品下生. Each grade is represented by a different mudra or hand gesture in 印.

The KANMURYOUJUKYOU 観無量寿経 (Ch: Kuan wuliangshou jing, or Scripture on the Meditation of Amitayus), mentions nine grades of Amida's welcome, but does not mention nine corresponding mudras. Nor do the nine forms of Amida display nine different mudras in the kubon mandara 九品曼荼羅 which E'un 恵運 (798-869) brought back to Japan from China.

Many temples enshrining nine corresponding forms of Amida were constructed in the Heian period, based on the theory of nine grades of rebirth. The only extant example is found at Joururiji 浄瑠璃寺 in Kyoto. Instead of the nine figures each displaying a different mudra, the central deity at this temple forms the "upper grade: lower birth," joubon geshou 上品下生, mudra, while the other eight images form the "upper grade: upper birth" mudra.

By way of contrast, the nine Edo period images of Amida at Kuhonbutsu Joushinji 九品仏浄真寺 in Tokyo present faithful representations of the nine different mudras, thus indicating that the theory had won considerable currency by the Edo period. Recent research has shown that dissemination of the Amida kubon-in occurred after the publication of the BUTSUZOUZUI 仏像図彙 (Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images) in the Genroku 元禄 era (1688-1704). The nine grades and their respective mudras are:

Upper grade: upper birth joubon joushou 上品上生 ;
Upper grade: middle birth joubon chuushou 上品中生;
Upper grade: lower birth joubon geshou 上品下生 ;

Middle grade: upper birth chuubon joushou 中品上生 ;
Middle grade: middle birth chuubon chuushou 中品中生 ;
Middle grade: lower birth chuubon geshou 中品下生 ;

Lower grade: upper birth gebon joushou 下品上生 ;
Lower grade: middle birth gebon chuushou 下品中生 ;
Lower grade: lower birth gebon geshou 下品下生.

source : www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus


When Kyohsi visited the temple Kuhonbutsu in Tokyo, Setagaya ward, 九品仏 浄真寺(世田谷区奥沢), he wrote the following haiku, while standing on a bridge watching the river

nagareyuku daikon no ha no hayasa kana

leaves of Japanese radish
float past on the river -
so very fast

This is not just a simple naive "statement as is", characterized by "a lack of deep thinking" (as some Western citics have put it).

Kyoshi is talking about the way natural things evolve, farmers washing the radish upstream, some leaves are washed away, floating on the the river, down to the sea, seawater becoming clouds and later rain on the fields, when farmers plant a new crop next year ... so all is evolving within the natural seasons.

. . . CLICK here for Photos of the temple Kuhonbutsu, Setagaya !


There are various temples with the nine statues of Amida with the nine mudras.


In Zaimokuza, Kamakura, where Kyoshi lived, there is a temple called

Kuhonji 九品寺 Temple Kuhon-Ji
内裏山 Dairisan Ryogaku-in Kuhonji

Founder Yoshisada Nitta 新田義貞  (1302-1338) was a warlord in Gun'ma Prefecture, roughly 100 kilometers north of Tokyo. His ancestor was the same group as the Minamoto Clan. For the reason that his ancestors did not support Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199), the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, when the Minamotos were fighting against the Taira Clan, Yoritomo did not give favors to them. The Nittas were treated badly and not happy at all for almost five generations.
Even 150 years later, Yoshisada had hostility toward the Kamakura Shogunate. Hearing the news that Rokuhara, the stronghold of the Kamakura Shogunate in Kyoto, surrendered in 1333, Yoshisada and his troops rose in revolt against Kamakura. A number of other warlords who were no longer satisfied with Hojo regime also rose and joined the Nitta. Tens of thousands of warriors stormed to Kamakura to fight a battle against the troops of Kamakura Shogunate. A bitter battle developed particularly at the Inamuragasaki district, southwest part of Kamakura, where present-day Gokurakuji and Joju-in stand.

Strategically fortified, Kamakura was not easy to break in for the Nitta troops, and the furious battle continued for several days. But, Nitta and his troops finally succeeded in destroying the fortress. The Hojo regime, and the Kamakura Period, which lasted nearly 150 years, came to a tragic end. Nitta, who himself later had to commit suicide after the defeat in 1337, lamented that so many warriors, both friend and foe, were killed during the civil-war type battle.
This was his motive to found Kuhonji at the site where he had placed his camp. The Temple opened three years after he conquered Kamakura.

About 600 meters northeast of the Temple where the road from the Temple crosses the Wakamiya-Oji main road stands the Kamakura Local Court and fast food restaurant McDonald's. This particular neighborhood was the bloodshed battleground. Recent excavation revealed hundreds of human skeletons which are obviously those of the war-dead were buried around here. After the investigation, those remains were carried to Kuhonji and entombed cordially.

Main Hall
Enshrined as the main object of worship are statues of Amida Trinity, Important Cultural Assets designated by the Municipal Government of Kamakura. Legend has it that the statue was made in Kyoto and was carried down here when the Temple was erected. Unfortunately, the interior of the hall is too dark and unable to make them out. On request, the statues can be viewed. Their appearance seem brand new, as they were gilt as recently as 1963.

The statue of Sho Kan'non or Arya-avalokitesvara in Skt., a 30 centimeters tall cast-metal, was made in 1812 and ranks 16th of the Kamakura Thirty-Three Kan'non Pilgrimage. The Temple also owns a stone statue of Yakushi Nyorai or Bhaisajya-guru in Skt. It was made in 1296 and 96.5 centimeters tall. The stone statue of Yakushi Nyorai is rare in Kamakura, and the work is highly evaluated by connoisseurs. Made of one piece of andesite stone, it is designated as an ICA by Kanagawa Prefecture and is displayed at the Kamakura Museum.

Also owned by the Temple are statues of Enma (the Judge of Hell), or Yama in Skt., and Datsueba, one of the Ten Kings in the Netherworld. Those statue are not enshrined here, but are on view, like the Yakushi Nyorai statue above, at the Kamakura Museum.
source : Kamakura Today, 2002

. . . CLICK here for Photos of Temple Kuhonji !

"100 views of Mount Fuji" series, Ogata Gekko (1859-1920)
Most probably this print is an illustration of Nitta Yoshisada throwing his sword as an offering to the Goddess of the sun, Amaterasu. It is said that in response, the sea opened up allowing for the armies of Emperor Go-Daigo, under the command of Nitta, to advance and defeat the enemy.
This took place during the siege of Kamakura (1333) and more precisely the Genkō War leading to the defeat of the Hōjō clan after more than 100 years in control of the Kamakura Shogunate.

- - - - - Nitta Yoshisada and
. 金山城 Kanayama castle .
temple Kinryuji 金竜寺, Ota town, Gunma .


Joshin-ji Temple and Kuhonbutsu Ryokudo (Green road)
Jiyuga-oka Tamagawa, Tokyo
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Kutai Amida-doo 九体阿弥陀堂 Hall with nine Amida statues
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

There was even a pilgrimage in the Edo period to these Kuhonbutsu temples.
江戸九品仏参り Edo kuhonbutsu mairi
It was done most often during the New Year holidays.


Neun Amida-Statuen
(Kutai Amidazoo, Kuhonbutsu)

Jede lebende Seele gehört zu einer der neun Kategorien geistigen Strebens und Wirkens, den sogenannten neun Klassen des Nirvaana. Diese Kategorien bestimmen den Weg, auf dem eine Seele ins Paradies des Westens eingeht. Daher gibt es auch entsprechend neun Amida-Manifestationen, die durch ihre Handhaltung diese neun Kategorien ausdrücken.
Siehe die "Neun Handhaltungen" des Amida.

Neun einzelne, meist vergoldete Statuen mit den neun verschiedenen Handhaltungen des Amida. Es gibt auch spezielle Pilgerfahrten zu neun Tempeln mit jeweils einer Statue. Manchmal auch drei Tempel mit jeweils drei Statuen. Besonders beliebt während der Fujiwara-Zeit.
Einfache Überlegung: Viele Statuen können viele Menschen retten. (z.B. Tempel Jooruriji in Kyoto.)

Neun Handhaltungen des Amida
(kuhon no in 九品印)

Die Neun Handhaltungen des Amida Nyorai, mit denen er die neun verschiedenen Stadien (kuhon no sekai) des Paradieses des Westens darstellt.

Die Daumen und jeweils ein Finger jeder Hand berühren sich, die anderen drei Finger sind ausgestreckt.

Beide Hände im Schoß in Meditationshaltung: jooshoo;
beide Hände vor der Brust erhoben: chuushoo;
eine Hand erhoben, die andere zur Erde gestreckt: geshoo.

Dabei berühren sich jeweils zwei Finger: Daumen und Zeigefinger: Joobon; Daumen und Mittelfinger: chuubon; Daumen und Ringfinger: gebon. Als Kombination ergeben sich dann "joobon jooshoo" usw.
"BON" drückt die Tiefe des Glaubens aus, "SHOO", wieviel gute Werke getan wurden. Eine Statue mit den Händen jeweils in der mittleren Stellung (chuubon chuushoo) drückt aus, daß dieser Amida ganz normale Menschen rettet, die mäßig glauben und mäßig gute Werke getan haben.

. Buddhastatuen ... Who is Who
Ein Wegweiser zur Ikonografie
von japanischen Buddhastatuen

Gabi Greve

Paradise Publishers, Kamakura 1994, 154 S.,
ISBN 4-938864-01-0


external LINK to Mark Schumacher

Kubon Amida 九品阿弥陀;
Amida of Nine Levels of Birth in Paradise

Daruma Pilgrims in Japan

O-Fudo Sama Gallery



Hiruta said...

How profound and how enlightening!

I sincerely appreciate your works of learning and your love of Japanese cultures.

Best regards,
Hidenori Hiruta

Unknown said...




Gabi Greve - Issa said...

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

tetsuki 手つき gestures

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

chuudoo 中道  Chudo, the Middle Way

The nine Amida statues at temple Joruji-Ji, Nara teach us 浄瑠璃時

Gabi Greve said...

Nitta Yoshioki 新田義興
(? - 1358)

Yoshioki was the second son of Nitta Yoshisada,


Gabi Greve said...

九品仏 浄真寺 Temple Kuhonbutsu (Kuhombutsu) Joshin-Ji
東京都世田谷区奥沢7-41-3 / Setagaya, 7-41-3 Okusawa