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Stone Carvings and Sculptures
Magaibutsu 磨崖仏

I found this carving of Fudo Myo-O on Shiraishi Island in the harbour, at a very low level close to the beach.


Buddhist figures chiseled out of stone, the Magaibutsu of Japan.
They follow in the tradition of the greate figures along the Silk Road, from the un-famous reliefs of Bamiyan in Afganistan to Dunhuang and others in China.

Magaibutsu can be found all over Japan, but maybe the most famous are in Kunisaki in Kyushu.
Read the LINKs given below for more.


More about the Henro Pilgrimage of Shiraishi
and my STONE links is here:

The Shiraishi Pilgrimage to the 88 Temples of Shikoku

. Magaibutsu from the Kibi Region of Okayama
Bunei Sekibutsu 文英様石仏 Stone Buddhas of the Bunei style .



- quote -
magaibutsu 磨崖仏 Also written 摩崖仏. Ch: moyafo.
Also known as magai sekibutsu 磨崖石仏 or 摩崖石仏. A Buddhist image carved into the surface of natural rock such as a cliff face, a large rock, or a stone cave. The rock-face was first polished, and then the image was created with engraved lines *senkoku 線刻 in low relief *ukibori 浮彫 or in high relief takanikubori 高肉彫. Clay was used to model details on the relief carving. Occasionally colors and gold leaf were applied. The surrounding rock was often hollowed out to form an alcove for the figure, so a deeply carved magaibutsu was sometimes known as *butsugan 仏龕, meaning Buddha alcove and a cave temple large enough for people to enter was often referred to as sekkutsu jiin 石窟寺院 or sekkutsuji 石窟寺.
Rock carving flourished in the Han, and Northern and Southern dynasties in China as well as in India, Afghanistan, and Korea.
In Japan magaibutsu never formed the mainstream of Buddhist sculpture, but there are many surviving examples dating from the 7c to 14c. It has been pointed out that popular belief in the living spirit of rocks in Japan was combined with Buddhism and was expressed in magaibutsu. Examples can be found across the country, but Kyuushuu 九州 has the greatest concentration of rock carvings, including the famous stone Buddhas in Usuki 臼杵, Ooita prefecture (11-12c). The images were carved on soft rock such as tuff, a rock formed by the consolidation of volcanic ash and tufa, a porous calcium carbonate rock found around mineral springs.
The late Heian period was regarded as the peak of the magaibutsu, in Japan and Kamakura works were smaller in size, carved on hard stone such as granite, and often unpainted, leaving the natural stone surface. After the 14c, free-standing stone Buddhas *sekibutsu 石仏 became more popular, and fewer magaibutsu were made.
- source : JAANUS -


source : facebok

. Ooiwasan Nissekiji 大岩山日石寺 .
達磨不動明王 Daruma Fudo

真言密宗大岩山日石寺 - Toyama

. 北陸三十六不動尊霊場
Hokuriku - 36 Fudo Temples .

the following part is under construction

. Stones and Daruma san 石とだるまさん  

Magaibutsu 磨崖仏散歩 Stone Cliff Buddhas

CLICK for more photos

I will take this chance to tell you a little about Buddha figures chiseled out of stone, the Magaibutsu of Japan. They follow in the tradition of the greate figures along the Silk Road, from the un-famous reliefs of Bamiyan in Afganistan to Dunhuang and others in China.
Have a look at the Bamiyan Buddha before it was destroyed.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Here are some Buddhas from the oasis Dunhuang in China.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Magaibutsu can be found all over Japan, but maybe the most famous are in Kunisaki 国東半島 in Kyushu. On this HP you can find a lot of information about them, sorted according to areas in Japan, with explanations and access directions.         

. . . CLICK here for Photos from Kunisaki !

the Magaibutsu in Usuki 臼杵磨崖仏, Kunisaki
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Gohyaku Rakan 五百羅漢 The 500 Arhats from Kunisaki
Twenty long years were spent by a mason from Hiji-machi Town in carving this. It was done at the order of the 15th chief priest during the latter half of the Edo period. 538 bodies stand close to one another on a slanting surface.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Stone Buddhas from Kunisaki in Oita prefecture

Oita has a wealth of Buddhist figures carved into mountainsides and sculpted from stone. The group of 75 figures in the mountainside in the area of Usuki City (the Usuki Magaibutsu) is a National Treasure. The immense Kumano figures (Kumano Magaibutsu at Kitsuki) are also famous, and the 3,770 stone images at the Rakan-ji temple (Nakatsu) attract much attention.

This area was famous for Magaibutsu since the late Heian period. Three medallions of the Kamakura period are visible on the cliff face; they are carved with Sanscrit characters representing Fudo, Comet, and Yakushi. Two additional medallions, now weathered, represent Eclipse and Bishamon. The combination of deities has astronomical and astrological and protective significance, in keeping with the esoteric Buddhist (Tendai) affiliation of the shrine. Buddha figures of various periods are carved near the base of the cliff.       

- quote
The Kunisaki Peninsular in Oita Prefecture, northern Kyushu, was a major center of Shugendo, the syncretic mountain religion mixing elements of esoteric Buddhism, Daoism, and other forms of mountain "religions". The version practised in Kunisaki was a variant based on Tendai and Hachiman.

Though details differ, most statues of Fudo Myo have him holding a sword in his right hand, a rope in his left, and flames behind.

More glimpses of unfamiliar Japan
- source and more photso : ojisanjake.blogspot.jp

古園磨崖仏(十三仏)Koen Magaibutsu
There is a group of 13 statues, with Dainichi Nyorai in the middle (one of them is Fudo Myo-O:

この大日如来を中心に左右6体づつ、合計13体並んでおり、13仏といわれている。向かって右端から、多聞天、隆三世明王 観世音菩薩、普賢菩薩、薬師如来、釈迦如来、中尊が大日如来、弥勒菩薩、阿弥陀如来、文殊菩薩、勢至菩薩、不動明王、増長天と曼陀羅式に彫られている。
- source : sekibutukankocenter.com -

古園石仏群 Koen Sekibutsu
- source : wikipedia -

. Jusanbutsu 十三仏 13 Protector Buddhas .

豊後大野 磨崖仏 Bungo Ono Magaibutsu

Fuko-Ji Temple Magaibutsu Cliff-Carved Buddha


CLICK for enlargement !
source : facebook

天寧寺 Tennei-Ji
川中不動 Kawanaka Fudo

大分県国東半島 Oitak Kunisaki Hanto

CLICK for enlargement !

- More photos
- source : www.yado.co.jp/kankou/ooita


Stone Buddhas in Motohakone  元箱根の石仏

Have a look at this beautiful Jizoo Bosatsu of stone.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

The Big Yakushi Buddha at the Nihon-ji Temple in Nokogiriyama, Chiba Prefecture. He is 31 meters high. This temple is easily reached from Tokyo by ferryboat from Kurihama to Kanaya and then up the Nokogiri mountain by cablecar.
The whole area with its many stone statues is well worth a daytrip.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. asekaki Fudo 汗かき不動 sweating Fudo .
at Nokogiriyama

Read more details HERE

Magaibutsu, Buddhas carved in Stone Cliffs
Mark Schumacher


春雨や 確かに見たる 石の精
harusame ya tashika ni mitaru ishi no sei

spring rain -
I really saw this
spirit of the stone

Tr. Gabi Greve

. Murakami Kijoo 村上鬼城 Murakami Kijo .

Read Hugh Bygott about this haiku:


aotsuta no ganji garame ni magaibutsu

the vine creeper
has completely wrapped it -
cliff Buddha

Shoobu Ayame 菖蒲あや


Oita Prefecture
Kumano Magaibutsu Fudo Myo-O
This one is about 8 meters high and the largest in Japan.

© PHOTO : www.pref.oita.jp

CLICK to look at more photos !CLICK to look at more Cliff Fudo

Click thumbnails for more photos !


Fudo Cliff Statue

at Temple Fuko-Ji (Fukoo-Ji 普光寺), Urasa 浦佐, Niigata pref.
Also a Naked Festival of this temple.

. Tomikawa Magaibutsu 富川磨崖仏 Tomikawa Cliff Buddha .
mimidare Fudo 耳だれ不動 "Fudo with hanging earlobes".


hitoyama no kare no naka naru magaibutsu

in the middle
of this withered mountain forest -
cliff Buddha

Shoobuke Kazuo 正部家一夫
Tr. Gabi Greve


Iwa no Mi (岩の身) "Body of Rock"
This teaching was made famous by the legendary Miyamoto Musashi.
It describes a warrior who remains calm and imperturbable in all circumstances. There is a famous story regarding this saying. It seems that this saying became very famous in Japan, and naturally people became interesting as to what Musashi actually meant by "Iwa no Mi".

So it happened that one day a lord came to call upon Musashi and inquire what his teaching actually meant?
Musashi immediately summoned one of his deshi, Terao Ryuma Suke, and ordered him to commit seppuka instantly. The deshi instantly dropped to his knees, opened his kimono exposing his midsection, drew out his wakizashi and without hesitation began to thrust the blade into his belly. Musashi rapidly reached down and grasped his student's arm stopping him at the last second from carrying out his command of suicide. Musashi then looked at his quest and replied "This is the body of a rock". The lord took several steps back, bowed several times, and scurried on his way.

Historically, this story is actually recorded in the "Terao Ka Ki" 寺尾家記 the chronicle of the house of Terao.

- Shared by Steve Weiss -
Joys of Japan, July 2012


. Stones and Daruma san 石とだるまさん  

. Stone Daruma ... my PHOTO ALBUM

Stone Buddhas
石仏 ishibotoke, sekibutsu
. . . and HAIKU

Wayside Gods in Stone
道祖神 Doosojin (Doososhin, Dosojin Dososhin)


- #magaibutsu -


Cow Lady said...

Nice haiku and photo Gabi! Glad you could take a little bit of Shiraishi Island home with you. Mooooooooo!

anonymous said...

Haiku with Magaibutsu

かな~に耳貸し給へ磨崖佛 松木百枝
ころりころりと蝉が死にをり磨崖仏 野澤節子 遠い橋
どくだみの十字を灯す磨崖仏 遠藤梧逸
ほうほうと梟の夜の磨崖佛 嶋田つる女
まくなぎを片手払ひに磨崖仏 長尾鳥影
わが顔のひとつが凍る磨崖仏 石寒太 炎環
一つ葉や忿怒相して磨崖仏 南上北人
一山の枯れの中なる磨崖仏 正部家一夫
一燈と熟柿を磨崖仏の裾 皆吉爽雨 泉声
下闇に並びて仰ぐ磨崖仏 奈良鹿郎
人が彫り露が彫りたる磨崖仏 鷲巣ふじ子
人の声石の声凍て磨崖仏 玉城一香
余花しづく髪にし磨崖仏もまた きくちつねこ
冷まじや地中へ続く磨崖仏 川崎慶子
唇の分厚く日永の磨崖仏 高澤良一 宿好
囀の中や臼杵の磨崖仏 中川幸子
夏川をかちわたり見る磨崖仏 五十嵐播水 播水句集
威銃谺して大磨崖仏 牧野春駒
宇陀川の瀬音涼しき磨崖仏 山本光江
寒禽の散華とこぼる磨崖仏 小早川恒
戻り梅雨みな横顔の磨崖仏 金田一一子(薫風)
杉が咲き鼻の大きな磨崖仏 菖蒲あや
滑るはこべら崖うつうつと磨崖仏 秋元不死男
激流の上に年来る磨崖仏 あきら
石楠花や当尾の里の磨崖仏 吉田積徳
磨崖仏いよいよ坂のさねかづら 伊東 伸堂
磨崖仏おほむらさきを放ちけり 黒田杏子「木の椅子」
磨崖仏かささぎの声返しけり 小串歌枝
磨崖仏その肩の辺の冬紅葉 伊藤敬子
磨崖仏どこか黴びたるところかな 高浜年尾
磨崖仏の膝下まで寄る掃納め 秋元道子
磨崖仏の陰線枝垂る裸木へ 羽部洞然
磨崖仏へ畦ふみはづす走り梅雨 田中水桜
磨崖仏みえますか このあたりですが 青葉蒸れの 伊丹公子 陶器の天使
磨崖仏みぞれと少女白く過ぐ 角川照子
磨崖仏一筋の風や秋近し 赤木日出子
磨崖仏千年が過ぎ蝶が過ぐ 岸原清行
磨崖仏囲み変化す濃紫陽花 難波澄子
磨崖仏宇陀の菫に立ち給ふ 皿井旭川
磨崖仏抱ける山の眠りけり 高山一政
磨崖仏河鹿鳴きつゝ暮れたまふ 水原秋櫻子「古鏡」
磨崖仏滴りに浮く眉目かな 柴田白葉女 花寂び 以後
磨崖仏滴る山におはしけり 安達実生子
磨崖仏統る一山ほととぎす 林昌華
磨崖仏色鳥の声経と聞く 内田美津代
磨崖仏草木瓜噛んで酸つぱいぞ 加藤楸邨
磨崖仏萩が忘れし風を呼ぶ 河野南畦 湖の森
磨崖仏見むと枯野に深く入る 宮田正和
磨崖仏鴉が巣枝咥え過ぐ 米沢吾亦紅 童顔
磨崖佛おほむらさきを放ちけり 黒田杏子(1938-)
磨崖佛どこかに黴たるところかな 高濱年尾
磨崖佛のひとみに 日の燃えおつる 地平線がない(臼杵石佛) 吉岡禅寺洞
磨崖佛をろがみ植うる峡の田を 水原秋櫻子
磨崖佛近く薄氷張りにけり 日原傳
笹鳴や浄土追はれし磨崖仏 加藤楸邨
粧へる山に傷みし磨崖仏 原口英二
紅梅や石に沈める磨崖仏 猪俣千代子 秘 色
藤棚をくぐりて拝む磨崖仏 衛藤睦子
虫送りここまでといふ磨崖仏 吉川一竿「かつらぎ選集」
蜂くれば人の顔して磨崖仏 加藤楸邨
蜥蜴見し目もてをろがむ磨崖仏 菖蒲あや
雪崩るると瞳より顕はれ磨崖仏 加藤知世子 花寂び
露けしや磨崖仏にも石廂 川崎慶子
青蔦のがんじがらめに磨崖仏 菖蒲あや「あや」
鳥交る真下長身磨崖仏 九鬼あきゑ
鷹鳴いて肩暮れやすき磨崖仏 林十九楼
麦を蒔く人を遠くに磨崖佛 松田八洲丸
鼻先に野茨下がり磨崖佛 河野聖城



Anonymous said...

Kunisaki: into a world of moss and stone

Between A.D. 700 and 800 the region gave birth to a syncretic cult — a mix of Tendai School Buddhism, Shinto and mountain worship — known as Rokugomanzan. A holy man called Ninmon is credited with founding 28 of the cult’s temples on the peninsula, which became a training ground for devout worshipers. Futagoji Temple is an important space for this worship and sits in the very center of the peninsula, at its highest point, surrounded by spokes of metamorphic rock in the form of volcanic ridges and valleys. Futago means twins, and the temple receives visits from the families of such children, which may explain the lack of visitors: such offspring are relatively rare.


Gabi Greve said...

楢本磨崖仏 Naramoto magaibutsu 
Naramoto Granite Carving

In Naramoto, Oita Prefecture, there is a granite rockface with carvings representative of the Muromachi period.

There are 45 Buddhist figures in all, including Fudo, carved on a rockface measuring 4.5m (L) × 40m (W) wall. Other than Fudo (Fudō-Myōō, Kongaradoji and Seitakadoji) and Yakushisanzon (Bhaisajyaguru, Nikko Bodhisattva, Gekko Bodhisattva), there are sculptures of the Twelve Heavenly Generals, Nio, Jizo Bodhisattva and a mandala that represents the world of Buddhism.

On the upper right hand side of the Fudō-Myōō, it is signed that the rock carvings were made in 1428. However it is hard to believe that all the carvings were made simultaneously, because the lower part seems to be older than the upper ones. In 1957, these granite carvings were designated as an important cultural asset of the prefecture.