Special Exhibition

Selected artworks

Shugendo and Esoteric Buddhist Art:
Founders and the Buddhas
March 22-July 9,2023

Shugendo is a distinctively Japanese form of religious belief which combines various teachings and practices. En no Ozunu (En no Gyoja, Great Bodhisattva Jinben) who lived in the late seventh and early eighth century is regarded as its founder. About two hundred years later, Shobo (Rigen Daishi), who established the temple Daigoji, restored practice in the Omine mountains and became the progenitor of the Tozan school, the Shingon stream of Shugendo.

This exhibition traces the footsteps and images of En no Ozunu and Shobo, the venerated founders of Shugendo, and also the deities associated with Shobo’s stream. They could be a source of contemplation on the prayers of Shugendo practitioners who sought the sacred deep in the mountains, desiring to bring liberation to living beings.

The Story of En the Ascetic handscrollThe Story of En the Ascetic handscroll

The Story of En the Ascetic
(En no Gyoja emaki)

Edo period (17th-18th century)
A pictorial handscroll depicting the legend of En no Gyoja (En no Ozunu), venerated as the founder of Shugendo.
Rigen DaishiRigen Daishi

Rigen Daishi

Muromachi period (16th century)
Shobo, founder of Daigoji Temple, is regarded as the restorer of Shugendo

(Fudo Myo-o)

Nanbokucho - Muromachi period (14th-15th century)
The Five Great Vidyārājas are represented by Acalanātha in the center and siddham characters in the four corners.

(Aizen Myo-o)

Nanbokucho - Muromachi period (14th-15th century)
The vidyārāja, with a wrathful expression, is seated on a red lotus seat inside a blazing sun disc.

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