Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oita city Seki Butsu

The last few days have been a small whirlwind of activity, beginning Wednesday when I accompanied Mutsumi to Oita city for a bit of work she had to do evaluating a couple of banks. I was along for the ride and for a chance to visit two more of the prefecture's 12th century stone sculptures. Several years ago we ventured down to the village of Usuki to see what is perhaps Japan's most well known collection of Buddhas carved in mountain stone outcroppings.

Dating to the same period, and equally mysterious in origin, are two more sets of carvings just on the edge of Oita city. The structures around the carvings are of recent construction and are intended to protect the rock from rain and sun. The Iwayaji carvings consist of one near-complete Buddha or Bodhisattva and the heads of a couple more. The color on the bottom of the robe of the near-complete figure is still noticeably red. To the right of this carving is what now appears to be a collection of frames, small alcoves that probably once housed statues that have since been stolen or destroyed in one of Japan's numerous religious pogroms.

Following the signs around the site takes you on a five minute walk to the Motomachi carvings, a bit grander and better preserved than Iwayaji. The main building houses a large Nyorai Butsu surrounded by some less well preserved guardian deities and Bodhisattvas. The neighboring structure houses only the faint remains of something human-looking.

It was a beautifully hot sunny summer day and walking around rice paddies following signs to sacred sites took me back to my recent trek around Shikoku. I was happy this time to be able to share it with Mutsumi.



  1. hello Jeff
    I didn't know there were such palces in Oita. I should go there some day! Thanks for beautiful pictures. By the way, I will soon finish writing a paper for American Studies Journal, so I will let you know soon after I finished (^^)


  2. I wasn't aware of them either until Mutsumi asked me if I wanted to go to Oita with her. What is there to do in Oita, I thought. All praise to the internet!

    Looking forward to seeing your paper.