Revered Buddhist Statues Return to Kyoto Temple After 7-Decade Absence

By Tomoyshi Kubo
The Chugan Engetsu Zazo and Bishamonten Ritsuzo statues unveiled at the Kenninji temple in Kyoto on Jan. 7 (Noboru Tomura)
JAPAN--Two statues dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, one of which is reputed to hold the ashes of Buddha, have returned to Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple after a 70-year hiatus. Kenninji temple unveiled the Chugan Engetsu Zazo, a sculpture that depicts a high priest of the Rinzai sect, and the smaller Bishamonten Ritsuzo statue, on Jan. 7. The Bishamonten Ritsuzo was discovered inside the Chugan Engetsu Zazo, which had been designated by the government as an important cultural property. The crystal ball in the Bishamonten Ritsuzo’s left hand is said to encase some of Buddha’s ashes brought back to Japan by the Tendai sect’s founder, Saicho. [link]