Special Exhibition

Special Exhibition Celebrating the Completion of Repairs to Jōruriji’s National Treasure Amida Statues

Numinous Minamiyamashiro
Treasures from the Mountains between Nara and Kyoto

Minamiyamashiro, the province of Yamashiro in ancient times, expands across the southernmost part of Kyoto Prefecture and borders Nara City. The Kizu River passes through its gently sloping mountains and magnificent natural beauty. Buddhism arrived on the Japanese archipelago in the sixth century, and temples were established in this area in the next.

When Emperor Shōmu (701–756; r. 724–749) established the Kunikyō capital in this region, and soon after with the fundraising activities of the monk Gyōki (668–749), who constructed a bridge over the Kizu River along with several temples, Minamiyamashiro came to the forefront of the historical stage. Then, at the end of the eighth century, when the Heijō capital in Nara gave way first to the Nagaoka capital and then to Heian, present-day Kyoto, the area became a vitally important corridor between the country’s two centers of religious, imperial, and political power. As Minamiyamashiro blossomed into a numinous place of mountain asceticism removed from the concerns of the mundane world, temples with close ties to Nara’s major religious institutions of Tōdaiji and Kōfukuji were built in succession in the mountains flanking the Kizu River.

During the Kamakura period (1185–1333), the monk Jōkei (1155–1213), who had studied at Kōfukuji and spent much of his career there, moved to two Minamiyamashiro temples in his twilight years: Kasagidera and then Kaijūsenji. Along with his deep faith in Shaka (Skt. Śākyamuni), Miroku (Skt. Maitreya), and Kannon (Skt. Avalokiteśvara), he was also active in the nascent precepts revival movement that was taking hold in Nara. After this, during the Edo period (1603–1867), the venerable Taichū (1552–1639)—a monk who traveled extensively across all of Japan spreading his Nenbutsu movement—spent time during his later years in Mikanohara, present-day Kamo in Kizugawa City. Through the ages, Minamiyamashiro has been a sacred geography of sincere religious practice and contemplation, one with great significance in the history, development, and practice of Japanese Buddhism.

We welcome you to experience two of the nine Jōruriji Amida statues, on display for the first time after the five-year undertaking of their conservation. This celebratory occasion is an unparalleled chance to spend time with these exquisite icons, reverently appreciating their newly restored forms and closely observing details visually inaccessible in their usual enshrinement context at the temple. At the peripheries of Nara and Kyoto, the Minamiyamashiro region is steeped in the Buddhist culture that flourished and developed through the centuries. In addition to learning about the region’s rich culture and fascinating history at this exhibition, it is our humble wish that the paintings, scriptures, historical documents, archaeological finds, and statues of Buddhist deities and native kami from temples and shrines of Minamiyamashiro it brings together transport you to its verdant realm.

National Treasure
The First of the Jōruriji Nine-Figure Set of Amida Nyorai (Skt. Amitābha) Statues
Jōruriji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture

Exhibition Dates

Saturday, July 8th–Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

First Rotation: Saturday, July 8th–Sunday, August 6th Second Rotation: Tuesday, August 8th–Sunday, September 3rd

The museum is generally closed on Mondays, but it will be open on the holidays Monday, July 17th. The museum will also be closed on Tuesday, July 18th.


The East and West New Wings of the Nara National Museum

Museum Closures

The museum is closed on Mondays (except for July 17th) and on Tuesday, July 18th.

Museum Hours

9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Last entry is thirty minutes before closing.


Same-day TicketsGroups*
General Admission1,800 yen1,600 yen
High School and University
1,300 yen1,100 yen
Elementary and Junior High
600 yen400 yen
*Twenty or more people
  • Tickets for the Special Exhibition also grant entry to the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall and the Ritual Bronzes Gallery.
  • In some cases, the number of visitors admitted to the galleries are limited to prevent overcrowding.
  • There is no timed-entry admission for this exhibition.


Nara National Museum, Nikkei Inc., Television Osaka Inc.


Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education, Kizugawa City, Kyotanabe City, Joyo City, Ide Town, Ujitawara Town, Kasagi Town, Seika Town, Minamiyamashiro Village, Wazuka Town


Central Japan Railway Company, TAKENAKA CORPORATION, Nissha Co., Ltd., Fukujuen Co., Ltd.

Special Support

The Association of Ancient Temples in Mimami Yamashiro

Other Supporters

Ocha no Kyoto DMO, Bukkyo Bijutsu Kyōkai (Buddhist Art Foundation), Nippon Kodo


Celebrating the completion of repairs to the nine statues of Amida from Jōruriji Temple—Their first conservation in over a century

The Homecoming of the Twelve Shinshō’s, 140 Years in the Making…
and their reunion with the icon they were produced to accompany: the Yakushi Nyorai of Jōruriji

The nine statues of Amida Nyorai (Skt. Amitābha) enshrined as the principal objects of worship at Jōruriji Temple are all National Treasures, and they have just been repaired for the first time in around 110 years. (Their previous conservation took place from 1909 to 1910.)

The first and eighth of the nine-figure Amida set are newly revealed at this exhibition with the long-awaited completion of the five-year project of their conservation undertaken in 2018 and brought to a close this past March.

National Treasure
The Eighth of the Jōruriji Nine-Figure Set of Amida Nyorai (Skt. Amitābha) Statues
Heian period, 12th century
Jōruriji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture
National Treasure
The First of the Jōruriji Nine-Figure Set of Amida Nyorai (Skt. Amitābha) Statues
Heian period, 12th century
Jōruriji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture

The Twelve Shinshō’s Homecoming, 140 Years in the Making and their reunion with the icon they were produced to serve, the Jōruriji Yakushi Nyorai

Until the Edo period (1603–1868), the Twelve Shinshō (The Generals Attending Yakushi) that are now divided among the collections of the Tokyo National Museum and the Seikado Bunko Art Museum were enshrined with the Yakushi Nyorai (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru) of the Three-Storied Pagoda at Jōruriji Temple. All of the Twelve Shinshō had left the temple by 1884 (Meiji 17). This exhibition marks the first time that the twelve statues are gathered as a complete set in the region of their original enshrinement, reunited with the icon they attended for centuries. They are together again for the first time in 140 years.

Important Cultural Property
Yakushi Nyorai (The Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguru)
Heian period, 11th century
Jōruriji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture
Photograph Courtesy of the Kyoto National Museum
On View from July 9th to August 6th*
*Please note that this is a day after the exhibition opens.
Important Cultural Property
The Twelve Shinshō (The Generals Attending Yakushi)
Shinshin, Shishin, Bishin, Shinshin, and Jutsushin
Kamakura period, 13th Century
Tokyo National Museum
Photographs Courtesy of the Tokyo National Museum
Shishin, Chūshin, Inshin, Bōshin, Goshin, Yūshin, and Gaishin
Kamakura period, 13th Century; Inshin: 1228 (Antei 2)
Seikado Bunko Art Museum, Tokyo
Photographs Courtesy of the Seikado Bunko Art Museum and DNP Art Communications Co., Ltd.

Major Works

Important Cultural Property
Yakushi Nyorai (The Buddha Bhaiṣajyaguru)
(Yakushiji Temple, Wazuka Town, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 8th–9th century

The trunk of this statue was largely carved from a single block of wood. In such elements as how the robe covers both ankles or the delicate expression of the statue’s form and fabric texture, the statue evokes works in dry lacquer from the latter part of the Nara period (710–794). Yet the broad shoulders and sense of robust depth to its figure are more characteristic of sculpture from the early part of the Heian period (794–1185).

Important Cultural Property
Statue Identified as a Bosatsu (Skt. Bodhisattva)
(Jōnenji Temple, Seika Town, Kyoto Prefecture )

Heian period, 9th-10th century

This statue was formerly installed at the temple connected to Hōsono Jinja Shrine. It was moved to the neighboring temple of Jōnenji during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Prior to the statue’s 1949 repairs, it held a medicine jar in its left hand. The medicine jar is typically the attribute of the buddha Yakushi (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru), but this statue is regarded as a medicine master bodhisattva. Such an iconography emerged within the religious paradigm of combinatory faith in Buddhist deities and local kami known as shinbutsu shūgō.

Important Prefectural Cultural Property
Gozu Tennō (The Ox-Headed Heavenly King)
(Shuchi Jinja Shrine, Kyōtanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 10th–11th century

In the western part of the Fugenjidani Valley, this statue protects the realm from the peak of Mount Takagamine at Shuchi Jinja Shrine. Note its fierce expression and what remains of its flame-like hair fanning out from its crown, upon which is perched the head of an ox. The shrine is positioned on the Yamashiro side of the boundary between the three provinces of Kawachi, Yamato, and Yamashiro. The statue’s presence there was perhaps intended to ward off dangers from beyond the border.

Important Cultural Property
Jūichimen Kannon (The Eleven-Headed Avalokiteśvara)
(Kaijūsenji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 10th century

This statue is the principal icon (honzon) of Kaijūsenji Temple. It was largely carved from a single block of Japanese nutmeg (kaya) without a cavity hollowed from its solid form. Its unique features make quite an impression, particularly the lifted eyebrows over its narrowed wide eyes. The archaic stylistic expression exemplified in the draping robes and elsewhere evoke s Buddhist sculpture of the Nara period (710–794).

Important Cultural Property
Jūichimen Kannon (The Eleven-Headed Avalokiteśvara)
(Zenjōji Temple, Ujitawara Town, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 10th century

Heiso (926–1002) served as the abbot of Tōdaiji. This statue was the principal icon (honzon) of Zenjōji, the temple he founded, which was completed in around 995 (Chōtoku 1). The statue dates to around the same year. Its steadfast expression and impactful frontality call to mind examples of dry lacquer statuary from the Nara period (710–794). This is an important icon reflecting the style of Buddhist sculpture developing in the Nara area at the time of its production.

Important Municipal Cultural Property
Left: Gōzanze Myōō (The Wisdom King Trailokya Vijaya)
Right: Kongōyasha Myōō (The Wisdom King Vajrayakṣa)
(Juhōji Temple, Kyōtanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 12th century
Photographs Courtesy of the Kyoto National Museum

These are two of the Five Great Wisdom Kings (Godai Myōō), Fudō, Gōzanze, Gundari, Daiitoku, and Kongōyasha, a set of great importance in esoteric Buddhism. Today, the Daitoku Myōō statue from the set of which these statues are a part is at Kyōtanabe’s Shōfukuji, while the other four reside at Juhōji. Yet until the Meiji era (1868–1912), the five statues were still enshrined together in the Godaidō Hall of Enichiji, a nearby temple that no longer exists.

Important Cultural Property
Aizen Myōō (The Wisdom King Rāgarāja)
(Jindōji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Heian period, 12th century

Paired with an image of Fudō Myōō from the same temple, this statue comes from Jindōji.
While the iconographic form referred to as “Tenkyū Aizen” in which the deity’s typical attribute of a bow and arrow are aimed at the heavens appears in scriptural texts, it is rarely realized in sculpture. This statue is particularly important since there are very few examples of its type.

Important Cultural Property
Shitennō (The Four Guardian Kings)
(Kaijūsenji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kamakura period, 13th century

Through exquisite technique erasing any trace of their carving, these statues are small in scale but resonate with the monumentality of colossal works. This is in part because they are believed to be precise miniatures of the enormous Shitennō produced for the Great Buddha Hall of Tōdaiji reconstructed early in the Kamakura period (1185–1333). These important statues created by the foremost sculptors of their time were ruined in a fire centuries ago; the statues before you offer a vision of lost Kamakura-period masterworks, particularly in their poses and coloring. It is possible that this set was formerly enshrined in the five-storied pagoda at Kaijūsenji completed in 1214 (Kenpō 2).

Important Cultural Property
Temple Bell
(Kasagidera Temple, Kasagi Town, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kamakura period, 1196 (Kenkyū 7)

Temple bells are rung during Buddhist rituals and to announce the time. This bell dates back to the start of the Kamakura period (1185–1333). It was offered to Kasagidera by Chōgen (1121–1206), who was at the center of the efforts to reconstruct Tōdaiji after Nara’s devastating 1180 fire. The decorative register of distinctive engraved lines at the base suggest the possible influence of Chinese bells.

Provisionally Designated Important Prefectural Cultural Property
Mandara of the Pure Land of Amida (Skt. Amitābha)
(Kaijūsenji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kamakura period, 13th century
On View from July 8th to August 6th

This painting was enshrined in the Sutra Repository (Kyōzō) at Kaijūsenji along with the Tuṣita Heaven Mandara. In the west, one sees the Pure Land of Amida. The way that the composition is arranged to form a v-shape and the layout of its deities is unusual. The singularity of this example has led some to conclude that the painting depicts the Pure Land of Amida as Jōkei (1155–1213) envisioned it.

Important Cultural Property
Tuṣita Heaven Mandara
(Kōshōji Temple, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture )

Kamakura period, 13th century
On View from July 8th to August 6th

This painting of the Tuṣita Heaven, the abode of the bodhisattva Miroku (Skt. Maitreya), was produced as a pair with the painting of Amida’s Pure Land. This is known from inscriptions on the rollers of the two paintings discovered during repairs. Together, they were enshrined in the Sutra Repository (Kyōzō) at Kaijūsenji completed on the thirteenth anniversary of Jōkei’s death in 1225 (Gen’nin 2).

Important Cultural Property
Monju (Skt. Mañjuśrī) Riding on a Lion
(Daichiji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kamakura period, 14th century

Kyōchūji Temple is believed to have been established in 1318 (Bunpō 2). According to the Legends of Kyōchūji Temple, the statue enshrined as its principal object of worship at around this time was produced using wood from a pillar of the Izumi Ōhashi Bridge that the revered monk Gyōki (668–749) had constructed centuries earlier. The statue before you is regarded as the very icon mentioned in these temple legends, and it can furthermore be understood as a copy of the Monju statue created by the master Buddhist sculptor Kaikei (d. before 1227) enshrined at Abe Monjuin. The lion is a later replacement.

Important Cultural Property
Jūichimen Kannon (The Eleven-Headed Avalokiteśvara)
(Genkōji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kamakura period, 13th century

This is the principal icon enshrined at Genkōji. It revives such aspects of Nara-period Buddhist statuary as the sense of stability to its wide seat and its lithe, elongated torso. The image so closely resembles the Miroku (Skt. Maitreya) that serves as the principal icon of Kontaiji in Wazuka Town that the two statues are believed to have been produced by the same sculptor or the same workshop.

Important Cultural Property
Portrait of Ikkyū Sōjun with his Brush Traces
(Shūon’an Temple, Kyōtanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture )

Muromachi period, 15th century
On View from August 8th to September 3rd

This is a portrait of Ikkyū Sōjun (1394–1481), the founder of Shūon’an. He was a Zen priest of the Daitokuji lineage of the Rinzai (Ch. Linji) school. He is depicted as a monk with stubble who has let his hair grow out, seated in a relaxed pose with his left leg hanging down. This alludes to his unconventional character. The inscription at the top of the composition was brushed by Ikkyū in his later years.

Portrait Statue of the Venerable Taichū
(Ōryūji Temple, Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture)

Edo period, 17th–18th century

In his later years, Taichū Ryōjō (1552–1639) was based in Mikanohara. This facilitated his travels to the various regions in which he preached his nenbutsu teachings. The statue was enshrined at Shinkōan, the temple that Taichū established. Later, it was moved to the nearby temple of Ōryūji. The portrait represents Taichū wizened by age, the hollows of his eye-sockets and deeply carved wrinkles depicted in an exaggerated mode.

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