Unkei, a great Buddhist priest who appears in textbooks, is still highly evaluated as a "master of beauty," "genius Buddhist priest," and "Michelangelo of Japan." It is said that there are not a few masterpieces of Buddhist statues from ancient times to the Middle Ages, but there are not so many Buddhist masters who are as disturbing as Unkei. One of the characteristics of Unkei's work is said to be realism. A typical example is Hokuen-do, Kofukuji. It is a vasubandhu image. This statue is as beautiful as a living human being. In addition, it seems that the vitality is transmitted from the youthful body of the statue of Dainichi Nyorai at Enjoji Temple in Nara. In addition, it is said that the characteristic of Unkei's Buddha statue is that its plump body feels heavy, and from there you can feel the strength and energy.
Unkei's style, in which such an overwhelming sense of volume appears, was accepted by the samurai of the East, and there are surprisingly many Unkei's works in the East.
Revolutionary child of Buddha sculpture
Unkei was born to Kokei, a disciple of Kokei, the mainstream of Nara Buddhist masters. Kokei had a son who took over, but Kokei took over as a builder. Unkei, who trained under such a father, gradually emerged. Recognized by the influential people of the Kamakura Shogunate, he made many Buddhist statues in the eastern country, and his ability became known to the world.
After that, he advanced to Kyoto, the home of the graduate school and the yen school, and in 1197 (Kenkyu 8), he took over the restoration of the Buddhist statue at Toji Temple at the Kei school family and expanded his power. Then, in 1203 (Kennin 3), after making a statue of Kongorikishi at Nandaimon Gate of Todaiji Temple in Nara Prefecture, he finally reached the highest rank of Buddhist priests.
The greatest feature of Unkei sculpture is that it expresses lively expressions and movements that were not found in previous Buddhist statues, and Unkei challenged the sculpture violently and passionately.
Nationally designated important cultural property
The Buddhist statue enshrined in the main hall in the temple was designated as a national treasure because it was said to be the "Amitabha triad of Naruchosaku" by Shochojuin. Since the standard of national treasure changed in the Taisho era, the designation as a national treasure was once lost, but in 1918, only Amida Sanson (Amitabha Nyorai, Kannon Bosatsu, Seiji Bosatsu) became an important cultural property designated as a national treasure. After that, a survey was conducted by Mr. Ken Kuno of Buddhist statue research in 1959, and a wooden moon-ring-shaped inscription was found in the womb of Bishamonten, followed by a similar inscription in the womb of Fudo Myoo. No similar inscription could be found in the womb of Sanson, but it was decided that all five were Buddhist statues made by Unkei because Dharani (sutra) was inscribed in the womb with the same handwriting. .. In 1970, with the cooperation of Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Japan, a storage room for Buddhist statues was erected, and in 1975, Fudo Myo and Bishamonten became nationally designated important cultural properties as well. Currently, there are 17 Buddhist statues made by Unkei that are considered to be true works nationwide. Five of them are enshrined in the Jorakuji storage. Since only the Great Buddha of Kamakura is a national treasure in Kanagawa Prefecture, activities to make it a national treasure are also being developed in Yokosuka.
Nationally designated important cultural property Amitabha triad statue and Fudo Myo royal statue, Bishamonten statue
Amitabha triad is in the center, and the side samurai are the Kannon Bodhisattva, a bodhisattva of mercy, and the Mahasthamaprapta, a bodhisattva of wisdom. Fudo Myo is enshrined on the right, and Bishamonten is enshrined on the left. The Amitabha triad Buddha with carved eyes shows the faith of Unkei. At the other end of the spectrum, Fudo Myo and Bishamonten are decorated with eyeballs, creating a highly realistic expression that is said to be a characteristic of Unkei. From each fold to muscles and body movements, it is because of the great Buddhist priest Unkei.