Monday, October 10, 2011

Nio of Kunisaki

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If you have been following my posts on the Kunisaki Peninsular in northern Kyushu then you will probably have realized by now that stone is predominant in the sacred art. Nio, the temple guardians, are almost always wooden, but it should not be surprising that in Kunisaki they are carved in stone.

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Something else unusual is that whereas in the rest of Japan the Nio were removed from shrines during Shinbutsu Bunri, the seperation of Buddhas and Kamis, and were usually replaced with zuijin, but in Kunisaki they still remain at shrines as well as temples. These first two are at Kibe Shrine on the north coast.

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These next couple are at Iwato-Ji, to my mind the most atmospheric of the many mountain temples dotted over the slopes of the conical peninsular. Notice the torii. The distinction between Buddhism and "Shinto" is blurred here, as it was everywhere in the pre-modern days.

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These last two Nio were at the entrance to Monjusen-Ji, a little higher up in the mountains.

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