There’s no better way to look after the roads than with built-in protection from one of Japan’s most revered deities.
People have been blown away by the beauty of the whales and their intricate submerged worlds.
Today we’re introducing you to the basics of Japanese Buddhism, plus highlighting some of the Buddhist images you’ll see in Japan and help you distinguish them from Shinto ones.
Use of Swastika-like maji symbol deemed “inappropriate” for maps for foreign users.
Haunted by demanding ghosts but can’t afford to look like a dweeb? These tights are just what you need!
Need some new figures for your desk? Then check out these Buddhist statue figures from Kaiyodo!
In Japan, there truly is an all-singing, all-dancing “idol” group for everything. From plus-sized beauties to macho men and octogenarians, if you’ve got a unique message and a catchy tune, there’ll be a niche audience out there waiting to share your next video and dance along with glow sticks at your next performance.
Just when we thought the happy-go-lucky, free-for-all nature of the amateur idol world had no boundaries, it seems there is one line that can’t be crossed: schoolgirls and religion. Meet the “Num-Num Girls”, a Buddhism-based schoolgirl pop group that has been shut down for becoming too popular.
The Buddhist statues of Japan come in a wide variety of forms, representing the various manifestations and aspects of Buddhism and its many sects. Of all the iconic figures that can be found around the country, perhaps the grooviest are the statues of Amida with a giant afro!
Dubbed the “Afro Buddha,” this statue stored at Todaiji in Nara is also rarely available public viewing — it’s usually only on display for one day a year! But thanks to special circumstances, it is on display from now until October 18. If you’re looking for the funkiest Buddha in Japan, now’s your chance to see him!
Man, remember CDs? For a time, they were the best and essentially only way to get your music fix, before digital distribution basically steamrolled CD sales worldwide. Now everybody uses those CD spindles—which once held dozens of CDs containing hundreds of hours of music—to keep their bagels from going stale or whatever.
Unsurprisingly, though, in change-averse Japan, CDs still do a brisk business, although sales are certainly waning and it’s only a matter of time before the Japanese, too, decide to collectively microwave their CD collections once and for all (this being the most fun way to dispose of your CDs). And one interesting side-effect of Japan’s CD business entering its twilight years is that some rather unexpected, and sometimes downright odd, albums have been stealthily cracking the top 10 charts.
For example, this CD containing a soothing collection of Buddhist monks reciting sutras.
There’s already a whole bunch of dating sim titles aimed at both men and women available to play on your phone or tablet. But for those who are fed up of sappy, cliché boy-meets-girl stories there’s a new addition to the growing range of visual novels available on mobile platforms that is set to tell a unique story focusing not on romance, but on the Buddhist religion.
In Kaohsiung, Taiwan, there stands a massive Buddhist complex set up by the half-century-old sect Fo Guang Shan. It is a sprawling 30 hectares (74 acres) and contains the nation’s largest monastery, a 36-meter (132 foot) tall Buddha statue, as well as an enormous Buddha Memorial Center in the shape of a pyramid.
However, for our correspondent Kowloon Kurosawa the real action could be found in the Pure Land Cave. It’s an attraction rumored to have been patterned after Disney’s It’s a Small World ride. However, as we’ll soon see, Buddhism is not so much a “small” world as it is a creepy and psychedelic one.
The giant stone Buddhas at Bamiyan were the tallest in the world at 55 and 38 meters (180 and 125 feet) in height. From their cliffside alcove, they watched a millennium and a half pass in Afghanistan, resisting the degenerative influence of time and the introduction of Islam, until religious fanaticism in the form of the Taliban and a great deal of explosives finally brought them down.
Their loss was a cultural and artistic tragedy, but this week the Buddhas were reborn through the magic of 3-D projection mapping and the efforts of a civilian Chinese couple.
Depicting the horrors of hell through art is a tradition in Buddhism that goes back at least 1,000 years in Japan. By depicting the suffering in store for sinners, the artworks were supposed to scare people onto the straight and narrow.
But if that’s what this late 19th century scroll was for, it might have had the opposite effect. We’ve never seen such a cute hellscape!
Your first trip to Japan is bound to be a whirlwind visit as you try to pack so many things into a short period of time. Do go to Tokyo and see the white-gloved train pushers, the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, and many of the scenes depicted in anime and manga. Do go to Kyoto and see the shrines and temples that are simply amazing.
But as a country that has so much to offer, it can take years to really get to know and understand Japan, even when you live here. So if you want to take your understanding of Japan a step further, we’re here to suggest a few things you’ll want to experience in order to better understand Japanese culture: things that give you insight on what’s behind the Japanese way of thinking.
These experiences will help you understand who the Japanese people are, and why they act the way they do. Get ready to move from tourist to cultural expert after the jump!
Japan is often praised for its ability to preserve traditional customs and architecture while still functioning as a modern society. There are few other places in the world where you can be in the middle of a buzzing metropolis, only to turn a corner and be face-to-face with a shrine that has stood for centuries. But did you know that there are actually entire prefectures that do not contain a single old temple?
Join us after the jump as we explore two such places and explain exactly why architecture that was hundreds of years old disappeared.
If you’re a fan of mecha anime, you’ll know all about towering robots and the impressive displays of power they show during large-scale, epic battles. One of the titans of the mecha world, Gundam, is so revered in Japan he’s been recreated to scale and stands looking out over Tokyo Bay, wowing crowds with his strength and height.
Gundam might not be so happy, however, to learn that a picture doing the rounds on the internet is making him look tiny when compared with his peaceful brother from another otherworldly realm. To be fair though, not much can compete with Ushiku Daibutsu, the tallest Buddha statue in the world, who lives just a 90-minute train ride from Narita Station.
Kiyomizu Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. Kiyomizu, which means “pure water,” takes its name from the waterfall which runs off the nearby hillside. However, it is perhaps most famous for its grand viewing veranda, a sort of stage on tall pillars that juts out of the hillside and commands beautiful views of the surrounding area. But a single visit to Kiyomizu doesn’t do it justice – you need to see it against a backdrop of cherry blossoms in springtime, bright red leaves in the autumn, and of course there’s the yearly illuminations! Luckily for those of us who don’t live in Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple has set up its own dedicated Instagram account, and the photos that they’ve been uploading are completely breathtaking!
Here’s a familiar saying: “In Ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods; they have never forgotten this.” Certainly in Japan, cats are still given a huge amount of respect, with entire islands of moggies being given free roam to peacefully exist in their own little kitty ecosystem. Of course, things aren’t perfect, and stray and abandoned cats are a sad reality in Japan as much as they are in many other countries. But today we’re here to appreciate the happy cats of Gotanjo temple in Fukui Prefecture, who are lovingly tended to by Buddhist monks and fawned over by the adoring tourists who come to visit. You can even get a special kitty cat fortune and see what’s in store for the coming year!
Our faces are not symmetrical, and that’s probably why some selfie lovers spend hours on end getting into odd poses and taking shot after shot in order to find their best angle. Some of us might have entertained the thought of perfecting our appearances to be like dolls or sculptures so that we’d look perfect from every angle. But lo and behold, sculptures have their “photogenic” angles too!
Moriyama-ku is an unassuming suburb of Nagoya city, backed by mountains and surrounded by forest park, which has in its midst an extraordinary hidden gem: a Tibetan Buddhist temple!
The female chief priest at Chambalin temple was trained at the sacred Jokhang monastery in Lhasa, Tibet, and she also holds the unusual honour of being the first Japanese woman to be ordained as a Tibetan chief priest.
Hearing this, our widely-travelled writer Mr. Kurosawa grabbed his reporter’s notebook and camera and headed down to take a look at this unique cultural property – and its adjoining Tibetan café.