Showing posts with label person. Show all posts
Showing posts with label person. Show all posts


Shimomura Kanzan

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Shimomura Kanzan 下村観山

Kanzan Shimomura (10 April 1873 – 10 May 1930)
was the pseudonym of a nihonga painter in Meiji through to the early Showa period Japan. His real name was Shimomura Seizaburō.

Kanzan was born in 1873 in Wakayama city, Wakayama prefecture into a family of hereditary Noh actors.

CLICK for more photos Having moved to Tokyo at the age of eight, Kanzan studied under Kanō Hōgai, and after Hōgai's death, under Hashimoto Gahō. He graduated first in his class at the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakkō (the forerunner of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), and became a teacher at the same institution in 1894.

When Okakura Tenshin left government service to establish the Japan Fine Arts Academy (Nihon Bijutsuin), Kanzan joined him, together with Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunso. However, Kanzan returned to his teaching post at the Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko from 1901-1908, with a hiatus from 1903-1905, when he went to study in England.

From 1914, he helped reestablish the Japan Fine Arts Academy, and in 1917 was appointed a court painter to the Imperial Household Agency. He served as a judge for both the Bunten and the Inten Exhibitions.

In terms of style, Kanzan was influenced by the Rimpa and the Kano schools, as well as early Buddhist paintings and Tosa school emaki. To these elements, he combined the realism developed from his exposure to western art works during his stay in England.

One of his representative works is a byōbu titled Yoroboshi or "The Beggar Monk" was created in 1915 in colored ink and gold leaf on paper. It is currently housed in the Tokyo National Museum, and is registered as an Important Cultural Property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The screen depicts a scene from a famous Noh play of the same name. In the scene, blind monk, has been falsely accused of a crime. Disowned by his family he wanders about, living as a vagrant. Although he is now blind, he has become one with the universe and can see all that surrounds him. Kanzan borrowed heavily from Momoyama period and Edo period style and composition, and the work shows a strong Rimpa influence.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

CLICK for more of his paintings
Click for more paintings


「不動尊」 Fudo Myo-O

quote from :


Alphabetical Index of the Daruma Museum


Kuniyoshi Utagawa Hiroshige

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Ando Hiroshige, see below

Kuniyoshi, Utagawa ... 歌川国芳
Ichiyusai (一勇斎)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese: 歌川国芳)
(1797 - April 14, 1861)
was one of the last great masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and painting and belonged to the Utagawa school.

He was born in 1797, the son of a silk-dyer, originally named Yoshisaburō. Apparently he assisted his father's business as a pattern designer, and some have suggested that this experience influenced his rich use of color and textile patterns in prints. It is said that Kuniyoshi was impressed, at an early age of seven or eight, by ukiyo-e warrior prints, and by pictures of artisans and commoners (as depicted in craftsmen manuals), and it is possible these influenced his own later prints.

CLICK for more photos His economic situation turned desperate at one point when he was forced to sell used tatami mats. A chance encounter with his prosperous fellow pupil Kunisada, to whom he felt (with some justice) that he was superior in artistic talent, led him to redouble his efforts (but did not create any lingering ill-feeling between the two, who later collaborated on a number of series). During the 1820s, Kuniyoshi produced a number of heroic triptychs that show the first signs of an individual style. In 1827 he received his first major commission for the series, One hundred and eight heroes of the popular Suikoden all told (Tūszoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori), based on the incredibly popular Chinese tale, the Shuihu zhuan. In this series Kuniyoshi illustrated individual heroes on single-sheets, drawing tattoos on his heroes, a novelty which soon influenced Edo fashion. The Suikoden series became extremely popular in Edo, and the demand for Kuniyoshi’s warrior prints increased, gaining him entrance into the major ukiyō-e and literary circles.

He continued to produce warrior prints, drawing much of his subjects from war tales such as Tale of the Heike (Heikei monogatari) and The rise and fall of the Minamoto and the Taira (Genpei seisuki). His warrior prints were unique in that they depicted legendary popular figures with an added stress on dreams, ghostly apparitions, omens, and superhuman feats. This subject matter is instilled in his works The ghost of Taira Tomomori at Daimotsu bay (Taira Tomomori borei no zu) and the 1839 triptych The Gōjō bridge (Gōjō no bashi no zu), where he manages to invoke an effective sense of action intensity in his depiction of the combat between Yoshitsune and Benkei. These new thematic styles satisfied the public’s interest in the ghastly, exciting, and bizarre that was growing during the time.

In the late 1840s, Kuniyoshi began again to illustrate actor prints, this time evading censorship (or simply evoking creativity) through childish, cartoon-like portraits of famous kabuki actors, the most notable being "Scribbling on the storehouse wall" (Nitakaragurakabe no mudagaki). Here he creatively used elementary, child-like script sloppily written in kana under the actor faces. Reflecting his love for felines, Kuniyoshi also began to use cats in the place of humans in kabuki and satirical prints. He is also known during this time to have experimented with ‘wide-screen’ composition, magnifying visual elements in the image for a dramatic, exaggerated effect (ex. Masakado’s daughter the princess Takiyasha, at the old Soma palace).

In 1856 Kuniyoshi suffered from palsy, which caused him much difficulty in moving his limbs. It is said that his works form this point onward were noticeably weaker in the use of line and overall vitality. Before his death in 1861, Kuniyoshi was able to witness the opening of the port city of Yokohama to foreigners, and in 1860 produced two works depicting Westerners in the city (Yokohama-e, ex. View of Honcho, Yokohama and The pleasure quarters, Yokohama).
He died at the age of 65 in March of 1861 in his home in Genyadana.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

LOOK at more
Woodblock prints by Kuniyoshi .


Samurai encountering Fudo Myo-o at a graveyard

source :


Musha-e 'Soga no Hakoomaru' 曽我箱王丸


歌川国芳「那智の滝の文覚」 Mongaku under the waterfall of Nachi
- source :


. Tengupedia - 天狗ペディア - Tengu ABC-List .

An elephant catching a flying Tengu

. . . CLICK here for more Photos - Kuniyoshi Tengu ! !
Kyôga tengu no korishô - Tengu no hana Tengu and their noses"

CLICK for more of his Tengu paintings - 歌川国芳  天狗 !



source :


Daruma's Buffoonery (Dôke Daruma asobi)
Publisher: Horimasa 1847

After the imposition of a ban on actor prints in 1842, Kuniyoshi produced numerous humorous designs with thinly disguised actors’ portraits. In this series, well known actors are portrayed as Daruma, without any mention of their names. This series is listed as number 191 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).
The prints in this series are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.

Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV (right), Ichikawa Kuzô II (center) and Matsumoto Kôshirô VI (left) playing the game of ken

Actors Ichimura Uzaemon XII (right), Ichikawa Danjûrô VIII (center) and Onoe Kikujirô II (left)

Actors Bandô Shûka (right), Sawamura Sôjûrô V (center) and Onoe Kikugorô III (left)

Otowa no Taki
Actors Badnô Shûka and Onoe Kikugorô III

CLICK here to look at the prints :
source : / William Pearl

............... MORE :

Artistic Performances of Daruma-monks
(Tôsei Daruma no gei zukushi)
Five variations of Daruma: two squabbling women, two jugglers, and the actor Ichikawa Danjûrô VII as the aged Daruma, whose nose was so long that a thread, wound around his nose and one ear, would actually hold
Date: c. 1842

Toys with Actor's Expressions
(Sono omokage teasobi zukushi)
A lion's mask, a Daruma doll, a female doll with bare shoulders, an owl and a male doll playing with a piece of paper (fukigami)

Daruma Utsushi-E
Women and children enjoying shadow pictures
Date: c. 1832-1844

CLICK here to look at these prints :
source : / William Pearl


Exhibition at Fuchu Art Museum
府中市美術館 : 歌川国芳

From 2010-03-20 to 2010-05-09

Kuniyoshi Utagawa is a late Edo period ukiyo-e artist whose fantastic motifs have received renewed critical attention in recent years. Full of a playful, ludic spirit, his works feature cats, warriors, huge monsters and fantastical creatures. A selection of these works were shown last spring in London, and later traveled to various European cities before ending up in New York this spring.
This exhibition features over 230 of Kuniyoshi's works over two parts.
source :


The rootless woodblock prints of Kuniyoshi
There have been several exhibitions of the 19th-century ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi in recent years. In 2009, there was "Woodblock Prints of Eccentricity and Laughter" at the Fuchu Art Museum and last year we had "Utagawa Kuniyoshi: Unparalleled Ukiyo-e Artist" at the Ota Memorial Museum. Both shows were quite comprehensive and treated Kuniyoshi with all the respect accorded a major artist — as he is now considered to be.

This year, we have the grandly titled "Kuniyoshi: Spectacular Ukiyo-e Imagination." With 420 works, it claims to be the biggest exhibition of the artist's works yet, and seems designed to elevate him to a level equal to the likes of Katsushika Hokusai.

But, while the show is ostensibly impressive and awe-inspiring, it does little to develop our understanding of the artist, falling back on the uninspiring narrative of a polymorphously creative individual in overdrive.

The breathless buzzwords in the title give it away. These are echoed by the exhibition's publicity, presentation, and catalogue, which show a tendency to gush over its subject in prose that reveals hard-sell intent more than curatorial insight.

"Variety was Kuniyoshi's watchword in technique as well as subject matter," exclaims a typically overloaded phrase in the catalogue's English essay. This is closely followed by the information that Kuniyoshi "explored developing compositions from a multiplicity of perspectives," conjuring up a picture of the artist sketching while standing on his head, and the assurance that his "wide screen compositions" are "particularly spectacular."

The vision of the artist that the curators are presenting is of some irrepressible fount of pure creativity who just happened to burst forth in the Edo Period (1603-1867) and who must be worshipped without question.

Of course, they might very well be onto something. As you pass through the exhibition, you are bombarded with what seems like an endless stream of unexpected and innovative imagery.

Pictures of warriors fighting battles and monsters, give way to epic scenes with giant ghosts and whale hunts, which in turn lead to depictions of holy men and paragons of virtue. Kimono-clad beauties delight our eyes, then give way to landscapes and pictures of anthropomorphized animals and objects, followed by trick pictures using ambiguous silhouettes and tiny human figures arranged to create the image of larger faces. A one-trick pony, Kuniyoshi certainly wasn't!

After this colorful carousel, the point of least resistance is to just surrender to the idea offered, of Kuniyoshi as the incarnation of pure "boundless imagination."

The problem with this, however, is that it is ultimately an unsatisfying narrative as it merely places the artist behind a curtain of blind adoration that ignores his failings as an artist — some of his pictures are hopelessly cluttered and compositionally weak — as well as the elements that tie him to his era.
source : Japan Times, Feb. 2, 2012

"Kuniyoshi: Spectacular Ukiyo-e Imagination"
Mori Arts Center Gallery


More by Kuniyoshi

Badger Tanuki and his big scrotum .. with Daruma

Daruma and Tokusakari ... two-way pictures, 上下絵 (じょうげえ jooge-e)

The Monster Cats enjoying a Dance

Priest Nichiren in the Snow on Sado Island


Daruma eating buckwheat noodles

Daruma, Life Beeing Breathed into a Papier-mache Doll

Shared by Ken Ishihashi - Facebook

. だるま夜話 Daruma Yobanashi - Dancing
Daruma Story for a Spooky Night .

. 歌川国芳 達磨 Kuniyoshi and Daruma .


二代歌川広重(歌川重宣)Utagawa Shigenobu
Shigenobu Utagawa, Hiroshige II

(1826 - 1869)

Utagawa Shigenobu (1826-1869) was the chief pupil of the the second great master of the Japanese landscape woodblock print, Hiroshige. He took over his master's go 'Hiroshige' on the latter's death, and is now principally known by it, being more usually referred to as 'Hiroshige II'.
He was born into a family of fire-watchmen, like his master Hiroshige I. He was originally named Suzuki Chimpei, and as his artistic career began, he was given the name Shigenobu (重宣) by his master Hiroshige I. He was made part of his master's household, and married Hiroshige I's daughter Tatsu.
source : J. Noel Chiappa

source :

新板手遊尽し Teasobi Tsukushi
Things to play with, including a Daruma だるま
When these prints became more popular, Daruma was one of the common features in them.


Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重
Ando Hiroshige 安藤広重



kigo for late autumn

Hiroshige Ki 広重忌 Hiroshige Memorial Day

1797 in Edo – October 12, 1858

. Memorial Days of Famous Poeple .


"Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido"
"Famous Places of Edo: A Hundred Views"

Utagawa Hiroshige (sometimes called Ando Hiroshige)
was the second of the two great masters of the Japanese landscape woodblock print, after Hokusai. He is particularly known for his scenes featuring snow and rain, which feauture in many of his best and most famous images, and which has led to his becoming know as "the artist of rain, snow and mist".

He was born (with the name Ando Tokutaro) in Edo (the name of Tokyo at that point in time), and originally was intended to follow the career of his father, a fire-watchman. After his parents' death in 1809, the orphan Hiroshige gravitated toward the art world, an inclination which had been encouraged by his father.
source :

"A Road Traveled by Feudal Lords and Pet Dogs:
Hiroshige's Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido,
Primarily from the Hoeido and Reisho Editions"

Yokkaichi-Juku 四日市宿

A popular subject of literature and art during the Edo Period (1603-1867) was the journey along the Tokaido highway between Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, the most famous depictions of which come from ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hiroshige produced more than 20 editions of these works, one of which is known as the Hoeido — 55 oban (26.5×39 cm) full-color prints depicting all 53 stations along the highway.
source :

The international Hiroshige research website:
Theo de Kreijger
source :

. Mentioning Hiroshige in the Daruma Museum .


Utagawa Toyokuni 'Toyokuni I'
Look at more than 5000 of his prints!
source :


Utagawa Yoshikazu  歌川芳員
(active about 1848-1863)

UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection - Fudō myōō

. Fudō Myō-ō, Fudoo Myoo-Oo 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O
Acala Vidyârâja - Vidyaraja .








Buddhist Sculptors Gallery


Mokujiki and his Fudo 木喰の不動さま


This file moved to the BLOG of Enku 円空
January 2012

. Welcome to Master Carver Enku 円空 ! .


Saint Mokujiki was born in Marubatake in 1718. He converted to Buddhism when he was 22 years old, and received his ordination with the name Mokujiki at the temple Rakanji in Tokiwa at the age of 45.
Mokuji underwent a type of severe ascetic training that does not allow the consumption of grains, fish, boiled food and salt. He kept to the rules of this training for his entire life.

He went on a pilgrimage throughout Japan until he was 93, and carved more than 1000 Buddist images during this time.

In his old age, when he had passed 80 years, he realized that people need something king and gentle to become kind themselves.


"Peoples hearts need to be all round,
everything needs to be all round and smooth!"

He then started carving Buddha statues with the special smile on their faces, for which he is now so famous. The smile and roundness makes his statues so different from the ones of his fellow Enku.

Smiling Guardian Deity for the People, Mori Town

Click HERE to look at more of his statues !!!!!


From temple Enzoo-Ji, Joetsu Town, Niigata


Writing by Mokujiki



nakigara wa
izuko no ura ni
sutsuru to mo
mi wa Ontake ni
ari ake no tsuki

Copyright(C) T.TAKEDA 1999


. 狸谷山不動院 Tanukidaniyama Fudo Temple .
In 1718, Saint Mokujiki practised zen ascetics in the cave here for 17 years.


Enku and his Fudo Myo-O

. Saint Tanshoo 但唱 Tansho .
and temple 万竜寺 Manryu-Ji



Who made Buddha Statues ?
Mark Schumacher

Buddhist Sculptors Gallery

Daruma Pilgrims in Japan





Enku and his Fudo Statues 円空仏

Seated Fudo Myo-O, about 30 cm high


© Kazo City, Saitama


A rather small, smiling Fudo

円空研究(5)新装普及版 Enku Study Group, Volume 5


「不動明王」日光市 清滝寺蔵
Fudo Myo-O from Nikko

More Enku Statues on this LINK


Saitama, Temple Jizo-In

総高 complete hight 48.7cm、像奥13.3cm、像幅22.5cm。
見沼区東大宮1-82-2 地蔵院 (大宮区高鼻町2-1-2 さいたま市立博物館寄託)
Saitama City Page


Enku and Bishamonten

岡崎市 Okasaki Town


Enku Woddblock by Munakata Shiko

画寸 45㎝×30㎝.... 額寸 58.5㎝×46.5㎝

Painting of Fudo by Munakata


Fudo Myoo(Enku) ©1997 Michael Hofmann


NHK Bi no Tsubo: Enku and Mokujiki , July 2006
File13 円空と木喰 : NHK 美の壷


. Welcome to Master Carver Enku 円空 ! .
His own BLOG !




En no Gyoja

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En-no-Gyôja 役行者 (Jimpen Dai-Bosatsu)
The Founder of Shugendo

En no Ozuno 役小角 "En with the small horn"

quote from

All yamabushi regard En-no-gyôja as the founder and as their spiritual ancestor. He was an ascetic-hermit who lived in the 7th century and got along with the bouddhic magic, and others...

CLICK for more photos

This man was called En-No-Ozuno of his true name which means "En (delivery: Japanese èn) "the small horned one" because he was born with a small horn on his forehead. "Devils" was a derogatory nickname the Japanese of the era gave Korean immigrants, and we know now that the Kamo family (En’s family) was of Korean descent. He was also known as En-No-Ubasoku (Upayaka En), by lay practitioners, but he is most commonly known as En the Ascetic (En-No-gyôja).

Emperor Kokaku was so impressed with his practices that he gave him the posthumous name of Jimpen Dai-bôsatsu (Great Bodhisattva of Divine Change). The first document which speaks about him is "Shoku Nihongi" and the book Nihon Ryoki (which was written between 810 and 824, that is to say forty years afterwards), which are the first Japanese books with Konjaku monogatari: "En-No Ozunu lived in the Katsuragi mountains (close to the town of Wakayama, near to the current Osaka) where he converted demons and communed with a Shinto god, practised the asceticism in the Ominé mountains; He could cling to a cloud with 5 colors and fly through the air. He employed the demon spirits to build a bridge which would connect the Katsuragi mountains to that of Kimpusen, a distance several hundreds of kilometers.

He was exiled on the peninsula of Izu, following problems with his cousin and disciple who was jealous of him. The emperor tried to execute him but the blade of the axe broke each time they tried to behead him. It is said that every night, he left his prison and flew away to practise ascetics at the top of the Mount Fuji. He was released thereafter.

It is also written more particularly in Nihon Ryoki, in chapter 28: En-No-Ubasoku came from the Kamo family of the village of Chihara (West of current Nara) in the district of Katsuragi of the plain of Yamato. From birth he was omniscient; and he revered the 3 Buddhist jewels (unusual at the time for a family of that closely followed Shinto beliefs like Kamo and Kusakabe).

He practised the magic sutra of the Queen of the Peacocks" (Kujaku-Myô-kyô). Becoming a spirit himself (according to the taoists), he practised the Buddhist doctrines and every night he clung to a cloud with 5 colors, then flew in space in company of the hosts of the realm of the spirits; diverted himself in the gardens of Eternal Life; slept in the floors of Zuigai; He breathed the air which nourished him fully. As he was 40 years old he lived a cave (the cave of Shô), dressed in linens and bamboo shoots, bathed in the natural sources of water (made taki shugyo), washing away there the stains of the world of desire. He practised the sutra of Kujaku and showed a marvellous capacity. He continued to control the demon spirits, obliging them to work for him for the construction of a gigantic bridge.

With all the data collected from different sources over several centuries, one ends up establishing a biography which has been pieced together little by little. The following has been discovered : the name of his father, his mother, 5 disciples including 2 demons, the transmission of the Secret Law (Mippo) by the Master Nagarjuna in the cave of the Mt. Minô. The traditions of the schools of shugen do not agree as on his end. Some say that he flew away into the sky over Mt. Tenjo-gatake. Others say he disappeared on the sea and that was only re-examined (in Korea) after several centuries, following an official voyage of the monk Dôkô of the Kimpusenji temple of the village of Yoshino.

Over the two centuries following his disappearance a growing number of individuals in Japan imitated his example: The monks Shôbô and Zôyô, as well as the itinerant yamabushi (as Jitsukaga at the time Meiji) continued to take him as a model. On January 25, 1799, the Emperor Kokaku decreed that he receive the posthumous title of Jimpen Dai Bosatsu! This document is always visible within the Shogoin temple in Kyoto.

Curtesy of Shugendo

Read more about
The God of Shugendo: Zaô-gongen (the Avatar Zaô)

The Pantheon of Shugendô Particularly the worship of the Buddha Fudou-Myô

... /shugendo/images/Fudo-myo.jpg

Doctrines of Shugendô

... /shugendo/images/freeclimb.jpg

This is a great resource to learn more about Shugendoo.
.. Shugendo


. the Demons Zenki 前鬼 and Goki 後鬼 .
- Introduction -

the husband Zenki 前鬼 and his wife Goki 後鬼。

These demons promised En no Gyoja, a Shugendo priest at Mount Ominesan in Nara, to protect the pilgrims of the area. They had five children, whose families in the x-th generation up to this day have five mountain huts where the pilgrims can rest during their walk from Oomine to Kumano.
The family business is going on for more than 1300 years now. Gokijo 後鬼助 san, in the 61 generation, lives in Osaka now and comes back every weekend and holidays to take care of the pilgrims.
There are now many legends about these two and En no Gyoja.
Enjoy my blog!

source :


En no Gyooja (E no Ozunu)
"Der Asket En".

Wandernder Priester, der erstmals im Shoku Nihongi (797) erwähnt wird. Gründer bzw. Ahnfigur der Bergpilger des Shugendoo (Yamabushi). Prototyp eines Magiers.

Um 634 geboren; seit dem 32. Lebensjahr übte er sich mehr als 30 Jahre in esoterischem Buddhismus auf dem Berg Katsuragi, bis er übernatürliche Kräfte erwarb. Er bestieg zum ersten Mal die heiligen Berge Kinpusan (dort erschien ihm die Gottheit Zao Gongen) und Oomine und gilt daher als der Gründer der Bergpilger-Tradition in West-Japan.
699 wurde er nach Izu ins Exil geschickt, aber zwei Jahre später wieder begnadigt. Über die letzten Jahre seines Lebens ist nichts bekannt.

Ausgemergelte Gestalt. Geht auf hohen Holzsandalen (geta), begleitet von zwei Dämonen. Mit einem Vogelgewand um die Schultern. Chinesischer Fächer oder Pilgerstab in einer Hand.

.Buddhastatuen ... Who is Who   

Ein Wegweiser zur Ikonografie
von japanischen Buddhastatuen

Gabi Greve, 1994


source : facebook

carved by 慶俊 Monk Gyoshun
ca. 78 cm high


En no Gyooja and Shugendo … An Essay

WASHOKU : Maple leaves tempura (momiji tenpura)

もみじ天ぷら/ 紅葉の天ぷら
With their origin related to En no Gyoja !
Minoyama Ryuuan-Ji, Osaka 箕面山瀧安寺

Shugendo The Way of the Mountain Ascets, Yamabushi

Zao Gongen 蔵王権現


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
34 役行者 / 15 小角 / 7 役小角
The legends related to Zenki and Goki have been explored in their own entry.


. Master Carver Enku 円空 .

source :

大和郡山松尾寺 Matsuo-Ji
奈良県大和郡山市松尾山 - Yamato District, Nara


- #ennogyoja -

En no Gyoja and Shugendoo


En no Gyooja 役行者 En no Gyōja
The Mountain Ascet En no Gyoja

kigo for late winter
En no Gyooja Ki 役行者忌 Memorial Day for En no Gyoja

The exact date of his death is uncertain, but is usually celebrated on the first of January.

. Memorial Days of Famous Poeple .

CLICK for more images !

- quote
En no Ozunu (役小角, also pronounced Ozuno or Otsuno (male; b. conventionally given as 634, in Katsuragi; d. approx. 700-707, reported details vary). His kabane, or political standing of his clan, was Kimi (君)) was a Japanese ascetic, mystic, and apothecary, who was banished to Izu Ōshima on June 26, 699 AD.
In folk religion, he is often called En no Gyōja (役行者, lit. "the Ascetic from the En clan") and traditionally held to be the founder of Shugendō, a syncretic religion incorporating aspects of Taoism, Shinto, esoteric Buddhism (especially Shingon Mikkyō and the Tendai sect) and traditional Japanese shamanism.
He is also known as En no Ubasoku (役優婆塞).
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


En no Gyooja and Shugendoo, an essay

En no Gyoja: idealized mountain ascetic
Curtesy from arvigarus.bravehost - no longer available

"Enlightenment" and "Nirvana"? They are dead trees to fasten a donkey to.
The scriptures? They are bits of paper to wipe the mud from your face.
The four merits and ten steps? They are ghosts in their graves.
What can these things have to do with you becoming free?

En no Gyoja as the idealized mountain ascetic was the prototype for the Yamabushi. His image and lore were key influences in the unification of many unorganized wandering ascetics into the new movement of Shugendo. The term Yamabushi directly translates into 'one who sleeps in mountains', and was used to describe those ascetics who, like En, chose the mountains exclusively as their ascetic training grounds. These men would withdraw from ordinary society in exchange for the benefits of rigorous mountain life. They would often maintain a special diet, such as pine needles mandated by Religious Taoism, to gain magical powers.

They would also subject themselves to physical trials such as standing under cold water falls for extended periods. These Ascetics sought out sacred mountains as a training ground (doba) and a shelter from society where they could freely put to use many different religious techniques. In Japan as with many east Asian cultures mountains themselves are considered sacred regions where deities reside. These unpopulated and unregulated areas of the country were seen a places where man could interact directly with nature and the spirits contained within.

Gary Snyder points out in his essay ,"Blue Mountains Constantly Walking" that there were a few highly formalized sacred areas which were modeled after a symbolic mandala. It was thought that to walk within these areas was to enact specific move within a spiritual plane. Hence we can see that these hills were not only sought out as a place of religious and spiritual freedom, but also the strong spirituality that was seen to be within the hills themselves.

Aside from the physical rigors the Yamabushi subjected themselves to, these men often memorized Buddhist Sutras, continually repeating certain phrases from these Sutras or Taoist magical formulas. There are three canonized Sutras which became integral parts of the Shugendo. The Lotus Sutra was adopted by Shugendo and has continued to maintain a special space within much of Japanese Buddhism. The Avalokitsvara (a recognized bodhisattva) Sutra was also adopted. I was unable to obtain any significant information about this Sutra at this time. The Yamabushi recited the Heart Sutra daily as a part of morning prayers.

Along with this canonized sutra the Yamabushi would also recite The Sutra on the Unlimited Life of the Three fold Body, an apocryphal text attributed to En no Gyoja. The contents and messages of these sutras provide insight as to the core beliefs and values of the Yamabushi. The most evident belief present in all of these texts is the ability for each man to obtain and experience enlightenment first hand. It was not until much later that folklore attempted to legitimize the transmission of these teachings by linking En no Gyoja to recognized teachers of Buddhism such as Nagarjuna. It seems as though the original Yamabushi were less concerned with matters of this nature, and more concerned with their own personal religious experience. It is not until the 9th century that scholars begin to take interest in the pedigree of their texts.

It is important to note that not until the 9th century time that formal religious adepts take interest in Shugendo as an organized religion. The original Yamabushi practitioners of the 7th and 8th centuries were of a more eclectic nature seeking out first hand religious experience. In the process obtaining this experience the they would appropriate fragments of the many different religious influences of the time and apply them to situations as needed. It is in this fashion that they adopted their own form of dress, with many attributes being drawn from Buddhist influences.

The outfits of the Yamabushi often consisted of a Buddhist hood (tokin) and surplice (kesa), and a white robe (signifying purity). They also carried with them a Buddhist staff (shakujo) and a (oi), which is a portable alter in the form of a backpack filled with scriptures and other religious needs. Two other distinctly mountainous tools adopted and worn were an ax (ono) and a conch shell (hora). It is said that often times these Yamabushi would even borrow the rosary of the lay Buddhist monks. Unlike the lay monks the many of the Yamabushi did not practice celibacy nor did they wear the ritual shaved head. Our eclectic mountain men often took wives, and wore their hair long or untrimmed.

At this point we can observe the interesting scope of the formation and progression of Shugendo. Initially we have the practices of a single individual, En no Gyoja who became the embodiment of an idea that's time had come. These actions were enough to interest many wandering ascetics who were in search of a new personally attainable truth in the rigorous training and eclectic practices. Also unregulated personal and religious freedom of the mountains is a large draw. Soon these practices begin to evolve, slowly developing a distinct quality unique among the new mountain men. This unique assembly of thought and practice begins to attract the attention of the court and nobility, presumably the only ones aside from the wanderers, with sufficient leisure time to consider such matters. The interest of these educated nobility spawns the organized canons of the Shingon and Tendai sects which eventually make the Shugendo religion and the mountain retreats accessible to the general populace.
This shift to a canonized and analytically smoothed-over doctrine eventually outmodes the original frontiersman of the Shugendo faith causing them to be seen as primitives or even dim caricatures of themselves. This learned and ritualized form of Shugendo flourishes for many years until much later (the 19th century), when a government sponsored religious reform makes Shinto Japan's official religion. In this shift Shugendo along with many other religions are forced to die out or remain in small secretive pockets. This outlines an archetypal progression from direct, unconscious or semiconscious experience of wonderment, to thought and analization, to death or reabsorbtion, leaving Shugendo essentially dead to experience and alive only as a shell or a fossil.

Shugendo was at one time a religion of true life and vitality. Beat poet Gary Snyder is a modern figure who fancied that he could still feel that vitality of the Yamabushi in their writings and in their ways. In his book of collected works entitled The Practice of the Wild he includes an entire piece on the Yamabushi which he hinges around Dogen Kigen's essay Sansuikyo, "Mountains and Waters Sutra" written in the year1240.

Snyder discusses Dogen 's interest in the mountains saying" Dogen is not concerned with "sacred mountains" or pilgrimages, or spirit allies, or wilderness as some special quality. His mountains and streams are the process of the earth, all of existence... They are what they are, we are what they are. For those who would see directly into essential nature, the idea of the sacred is a delusion and an obstruction: it diverts us from seeing what is before our eyes: plain thusness. Snyder provides us with some excerpts from Sansuikyo beginning with the opening paragraph. If we can strive to understand Dogen's sentiments the Shugendo vision may not be dead. In fact this very understanding can serve us as building block in all of our spiritual constructs, present, and future.

"The mountains and rivers of this moment are the actualization of the way of the ancient Buddhas. Each, abiding in its own phenomenal expression, realizes completeness. Because mountains and waters have been active since before the eon of emptiness, they are alive at this moment. Because they have been the self since before form arose, they are liberated and realized."
Mountains and Rivers Sutra

En the ascetic represented a spiritual ideal for the common folk unfettered by the corruption of power and money that is at the heart of institutionalized religion.

From the esoteric collection of Reverend Dr. JC Husfelt:
(En-No-Gyoja with the Siddham letter Ham, seed-syllable of Fudo Myo-o.)

The following gives a brief over-view of Shugendo:

A blend of pre-Buddhist folk traditions of Sangaku shinko and Shinto, Tantric Buddhism, and Chinese Yin-yang magic and Taoism, Shugendo may be roughly defined as the 'way of mastering magico-ascetic powers by retreat to and practice within the sacred mountains'. Shugendo practitioners were called Yamabushi, a term which meant 'one who lies down or sleeps in the mountains' and the sect included various types of ascetics such as unofficial monks, wandering holy men, pilgrimage guides, blind musicians, exorcists, hermits and healers.

A leading scholar of Shugendo, H. Byron Earhart, explains that "In the early stages of the development of Shugendo the yamabushi usually were unmarried mendicants who spent most of their time in religious practice within the mountains; in later periods most yamabushi married and either had their temple homes at the foot of sacred mountains or made periodic trips of religious pilgrimage and ascetic retreat to the mountains...

When the yamabushi descended the mountains they visited their 'parishioners' to administer blessings from the mountain or perform special services of healing and exorcism. The yamabushi were adept in a variety of purifications, formulas, and charms. The religious goal of Shugendo was as diverse as its organization, technique, and procedure. In general it amounted to the utilization of religious power for every imaginable human need". Because of its loose organization, its lack of textual doctrine, and its appeal to the simple, illiterate folk people of the countryside, Shugendo became a popular movement throughout Japan from the twelfth century to the time of the Meiji restoration in 1868. According to one study, more than 90% of the village shrines in mid-northern and northeastern Japan were served by Shugendo priests. (Martin Gray’s Sacred Sites)

Throughout these mountains and this magical landscape of the yamabushi roams the heart and the spirit of their patron guardian, the Brilliant Light King—Fudo Myoo-oo.
Gary Snyder best describes this great protector of the Shugendo brotherhood:

" Goma, fire ceremony, mudras hid under the sleeves, dark lanterns and earthen floor smells, the Yamabushi costume with the strip of deer or wild goat hide hanging down in back. And in some of the shrines, Fudo. Fierce and funny, sitting on a rock, backed by flames, holding the vajra-sword and a noose.

Fudo shrines on mountain tops, by waterfalls, and in temples, a patron of mountain ascetics, the popular Buddha-image of many rural provinces in the old central parts of Honshu. The Yamabushi have their own lore and practice of Fudo. For the other Buddhist followers, he is seen as a Dharma-protector, a grim but compassionate tough guy, punk or street-Buddha, no bullshit, the noose is said to be a lasso and save some folks from hell whether they want it or not, or said to be for binding up destructive passions. Actually the noose stands for The Precepts. The sword is the same sword as Manjushri wields, cutting through delusion and foolishness. Such a figure appropriate to this worst of centuries, a Buddha of enlightened determination who will not back off, who is not averse to confronting the mass murder of Ukrainians, of Jews, of Cambodians, and the threat of nuclear holocaust. Who can sit down with generals and dictators and talk even tougher than they. And then laugh about it, and convert and forgive.

And more technically, in Japanese iconography, he is seen as an emanation of Vairochana, the cosmic eternal Buddha, in a body to enact appropriate compassion and teaching, but also the consort perhaps and other side of the gentle and feminine image of Kannon, motherly, loverly, nourishing or challenging—compassion.

The Sanskrit name Chandamaharoshana, ‘Lord of Heat’ and read his old north Indian Vajrayana sadhana (visualization and practice exercise) and saw that he was a relatively minor, or at least little-known part of that iconography, an ally-figure? Minor perhaps, but enormously important. He is an emanation of the most powerful of emotions, instincts, and feelings, the deeps of the ‘red lump of flesh’—the roar of the Griz, the dying flurry of whole body of a whale, the deep-throated cry of sexual ecstasy, the cry of delight, the cry of pain, all—as illuminated and accepted and transformed by insight—as the strength and calm of active, dynamic, fearless mind-awakened willingness to fully act and be." (Contributions to the Ring of Bone Zendo Dharma Art Exhibit, September, 1987)

Fudo Myo-o-Messenger of Dainchi Nyorai (Great Sun)
about Kooya-San, read the story on the link.

Ku-kai, the founder of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, is probably the most influential person in the history of Japanese religious thought. Dissatisfied with the state of religious and spiritual practice in Japan, Ku-kai in 804 C.E. traveled to China seeking something purer, uncorrupted by the politics and dogma of his time. His seeking outside the established lines of authority was due to his experiences with direct intuitive awakening. It was these experiences that helped shape his approach to the spirit and to Buddhism. And there was one primary event that is credited with his awakening:

In Indications of the Goals of the Three Teachings, Ku-kai (Kuu-Kai 空海)tells of his own experience. "Believing what the Buddha says to be true, I recited the mantra incessantly, as if I were rubbing one piece of wood against another to make fire, all the while earnestly hoping to achieve this result. I climbed up Mount Tairyu in Awa Province and meditated at Cape Muroto in Tosa. The valley reverberated to the sound of my voice as I recited, and the planet Venus appeared in the sky." (Hakeda, pg. 102) In a moment of dramatic achievement, Ku-kai experienced a vision of the planet Venus with him as the Bodhisattva Akasagarbha who became his guardian saint. (R.S. Green, University of Wisconsin Buddhist Studies Ph.D. program student, 1999.)

Two years later, 806 C.E., Ku-kai returned from his journeys through China as lineage holder of an esoteric Buddhist tradition. This new religion based on his vision, experiences and studies, he deemed, "True Word" or Shingon. This Mikkyo, "secret teaching", form of Buddhism was dependent, in Ku-kai’s mind, on the power inherent when one transcends language and discovers the word spirit of the divine, what might be termed the nuclear seed-sounds of creation.

In 816 C.E. Ku-kai petitioned the government for permission to locate his new religion on the sacred mountain of Koya (Kooya-san高野山). "Two years later, Ku-kai climbed Ko-ya-san himself, at which time he is said to have met the local god of the mountain in the person of a hunter accompanied by two dogs, black and white. Several such legends exist, and native deities associated with Shingon are enshrined at various places on and around the sacred mountain. Ku-kai did in fact invoke the protection of local deities when he performed an esoteric ritual to establish a sacred realm of practice on the mountaintop. This consecrated area was named Kongobu-ji." (Shingon, pg. 30)
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Read my story about Yoshino and the Cherry Blossoms


En no Gyoja

. Negoro Temple 根香寺 Shikoku Pilgrimage Nr. 82 .