Restoration of a Pair of Standing Statues of Kongōrikishi [Skt. Vajrapani] Belonging to Rakuhōji Temple, Ibaraki Prefecture (2017–2020)
鎌倉時代前期 修復年 2017〜2020年
The honorific mountain prefix of Rakuhōji Temple is Amabikisan [literally ‘Attracting Rain Mountain’] and it is said that it received this name from Emperor Saga for its efficacy in calling for rain. It is an ancient temple built during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and is famous as being number twenty-four of the Bandō Sanjūsankasho [series of thirty-three Buddhist temples in eastern Japan sacred to Kannon Bosatsu].
These two statues of Kongōrikishi were housed in Rakuhōji Temple’s Deva Gate but as a result of modern restoration they were covered in a thick coating of paint, obscuring their original forms. For this restoration, we started with the Ungyō [mouth closed] statue, which had suffered the worst damage, and after removing the coating of paint, a wonderful statue was revealed. In particular, this statue does not have an exaggerated form but exhibits natural proportions. In style, it resembles the Kongōrikishi statues created by Unkei that are housed in the Nandaimon Gateway of Tōji Temple (aka. Kyōōgokokuji Temple) in Kyoto.
With the exception of both arms, the statue belonging to Rakuhōji Temple was carved almost entirely (including its robe that is depicted fluttering in the wind) from a single block of Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) in excess of 1 meter in diameter. Furthermore, from the top of its head to its feet, the statue has been split in half, front and rear, and the uchiguri technique employed to hollow out the interior evenly. When the Agyō [mouth open] statue was disassembled, it was found to contain various items that had been inserted around the time of its 1519 restoration.
The restoration work is due to be completed during the 2020 academic year and the statues returned to Rakuhōji Temple where they will be enshrined in the repository.