Monday, January 17, 2011
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.
Fudo Myo is strongly associated with Shugendo, so I expected to see a lot of Fudo statuary, but actually there wasn't all that much.
These first three were all at Taizo-ji.
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.
The devil-subduing sword represents wisdom cutting through ignorance. The rope is used to catch and tie up demons.
The flames purify the mind by burning away material desires. Fudo Myo's fierce, fanged face is meant to frighten people into accepting the Buddhas way....
Up on the mountainside above Taizo-Ji are the Kumano Magaibutsu, 2 huge carvings hewn directly into the cliff face.
The one of Fudo Myo is eight meters tall and the largest cliff carving in Japan.
I am almost sure that this old wooden statue of Fudo Myo is at Maki Odo, which also has many other wonderful wooden statues.
In the center of the Kunisaki Peninsular is Futago-san, the highest mountain, and on it lies Futago-Ji dedicated to Fudo Myo, so there are many statues of him here. The two figues at his sides are probably Kongara Doji and Seitaka Doji.
Like many of the Buddhist deities, Fudo Myo's origin is in Hinduism.