The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis visits the Kohfukuji Treasure Hall in Nara, Japan

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jul• 18•13

KofukjujiPagoda1cThese days, Japan is restoring seemingly dozens of historical shrines and temples. The process included shrouding the building in a huge, unsightly shed for periods of up to five years. While we here at WoWasis applaud the process in general, it wreaks havoc on visitors that were hoping to see an important shrine or temple, and come away disappointed.

Such is the case with Nara’s historically significant Kohfukuji Temple. There is, however, an important museum to see on the temple grounds, the Treasure Hall, which holds a magnificent collection of statuary well worth seeing. We recommend it.

Banner_Asia00There’s a lot to see in the museum, not necessarily in terms of numbers of items, but with the intricacy of the carvings on the statues themselves. It’s hard to pick favorites, but among them would be the six seated monks of the Hosso sect, carved of Jotoh wood in the Kamakura Period, and dated approximately 1189 ACE. The expressions on the faces of these monks are magnificent examples of human expression. Comparing them with figurative sculptures done in the western world during the same era, the visitor is dumfounded at the greater emphasis on emotion evidenced by the Japanese carvers. Around the corner from the seated monks is another treat, the Ten Great Disciples created from hollow-dry lacquer, and made circa 734 ACE. Again, expression and detail are the keynotes.

There are other significant works in the Treasure Hall, but frankly, everything on display is worth noting. We toured the exhibits twice before we left. One round wasn’t enough, as we just couldn’t believe the beauty of what we were seeing, and had to double-back just to convince ourselves that we weren’t imaging it.

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