Daibutsu and Hotoke


Daibutsu and Hotoke

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: TOPIC
***** Category: Humanity


Daibutsu, a great Buddha statue, big Buddha statue, large Buddha statue 大仏

- - - - - Read the details here :
Buddha Statues : DAIBUTSU - - Mark Schumacher

The best known BIG BUDDHA statues in Japan are

in Nara - consecrated in 752.

and in Kamakura - consecrated in 1252.
The temple around it was destroyed by a tsunami in 1495.

. 鎌倉 Kamakura, a Haiku Town .

. Folk Toys from Kamakura .
with a Daibutsu made from lego !

. Daibutsu in Kyoto 京都の大仏様 .
京都大仏御殿 / Hookooji 方広寺 Hoko-Ji ...


- quote -
The Gifu Great Buddha
岐阜大仏 Gifu Daibutsu

is a large Buddhist statue located in Shōhō-ji in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It was conceived by the 11th head priest of Kinpouzan Shōhō temple, Ichyuu, around 1790, in hopes of averting large earthquakes and famines. Ichyuu died in 1815 before it was completed, but his successor, Priest Kohshuu completed it in April 1832, after 38 years of construction. It is one of the three great Buddha portrait statues in Japan.
The Great Buddha of Gifu is unique due to the method of its construction.
First, a central pillar 1.8 meters in circumference was formed from ginkgo tree wood. The Buddha's shape was then formed using bamboo lattices. The bamboo was covered with clay to add shape and many Buddhist scriptures were then placed upon the clay. Finally, the scriptures were covered in lacquer and gold leaf, giving the Buddha the appearance that it has today.
- source : wikipedia-


Here we are concerned with the aspect of these Buddhas and other hotoke in Haiku.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

BIG Daruma at temple Koryu-Ji in Hokkaido 高龍寺

大仏名鑑 - All the BIG statues of Japan !

source : sakahara 坂原弘康


Daibutsu - just the name makes for a good commercial!

There are so many Daibutsu items on sale !
Even the nose poop 鼻くそ and navel poop へそのごま of Daibutsu!
Most are from the Nara Daibutsu.

Daibutsu anpan
Daibutsu cider
Daibutsu pudding,
Daibutsu krokke croquette
Daibutsu gummi sweets from Shonan / Kamakura

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !


. Nara no Hotoke 奈良
The Buddha Statues of Nara and Haiku


Haiku by Masaoka Shiki

daibutsu no kata hada no yuki toke ni keri

The snow on one shoulder
of the image of Great Buddha
has thawed.

Tr. Hugh Bygott

on one shoulder
of the Great Buddha
the snow has thawed ...

Translation Discussion by Gabi Greve


The snow has melted
On one shoulder
Of the Great Buddha.

Life is asymmetrical in its essential character, and it is natural for us to rejoice in it, for it is the guarantee of our spiritualfreedom. Even on the Great Buddha, for all the Law of Karma and theinviolable Wheel of the Law, the snow melts irregularly.

Tr. and Comment by Blyth


............. Tanka about the Daibutsu of Kamakura

火に焼けず 雨にも朽ちぬ 鎌倉の
はだか仏は 常仏かも

Look at some PHOTOS !


about the Daibutsu in Nara

Daibutsu no ashimoto ni neru yozamu kana

sleeping at the feet
of the Big Buddha -
what a cold night

Tr. Gabi Greve


Photo Gabi Greve
Temple Buttsu-Ji, Okayama, 2004

yukashisa ya ochiba kaburishi hotoketachi

Imaizumi Sogetsu (c. 1750 - 1804), a woman poet

How lovely!
Fallen leaves have reached and veiled
an image of Buddha.

Tr. Hugh Bygott

how lovely -
the stone Buddhas coverd
by fallen leaves

Translation Discussion by Gabi Greve


Comment by Larry Bole :

Mysterious loveliness!
Buddhist statues
Covered in fallen leaves.

Tr. Blyth

Blyth makes no comment on it, but considering that he only translates one other haiku by Sogetsu-ni, one can conclude that he thought this haiku was the most representative/best of her work.

If you want to compare Sogetsu-ni's haiku quoted above to a haiku by Shiki, how about this one of his, written in 1894:

ote no ue ni ochiba tamarinu tachibotoke

Stone Buddha standing there--
fallen leaves settled
in his hands

tr. Burton Watson

Sogetsu-ni's haiku, for all its loveliness, seems to be about mostly that: loveliness. No one has ever said that the tsukinami poets (and I'm not saying Sogetsu-ni was one) weren't skillful, within their artistic limitations. I suspect that pretty, technically-accomplished haiku were manufactured seemingly effortlessly by the tsukinami poets.


divine mystery
in these autumn leaves that fall
on stony buddhas

Tanrısal gizem;
bu güz düşen yapraklar
taş Buda’lara.

Turgay Uçeren


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

When Basho visited Todaiji in Nara, the temple was still under repair after the destruction wrought by the civil wars of the sixteenth century. The Great Buddha statue was only finally completed in 1692, after the visit by Basho described above, and the statue sat for years in the open like the Great Buddha in Kamakura.

The new Buddha Hall (which is the present one) was finally finished in 1708, and Basho did not live to see this. He grieved for the Buddha in its sad state, for at that time even the head had not been restored yet. Basho saw only the rump of the statue, slowly being covered by the first snow of the year, and he wrote:

hatsu yuki ya itsu Daibutsu no hashira date

first snow!
when will the temple building start
for the Great Buddha?

© Ad G. Blankestijn,
with more memorial stones on this LINK

The year's first snowfall!
When are the columns of Daibutsu
Temple to be erected?

Tr. Oseko

Written in December Genroku 2. 元禄2年12月

Daibutsuden, the current Hall for the Great Buddha was built in 1709.


 Tr. by David Landis Barnhill :

Visiting the Southern Capital, I yearned for the eventual building of the Buddha Hall

first snow--
for the Great Buddha, when
will the columns be raised?

Barnhill also gives an earlier version of this hokku:

yuki kanashi itsu Daibutsu no kawarabuki

the snow is sad:
when will the Great Buddha
have its tiled roof?

It took about two years after the visit of Basho until the roof was preliminary fixed and the statue out of danger.

how sad to see it snowing!
when will the Gread Buddha Hall
get its roof tiled?

Tr. Gabi Greve

round tiles from the Daibutsu Hall
now a sweet from Nara
天平時代大仏殿の巴瓦 - tomoegawara

. . . CLICK here for Photos of the tiles !

. Temple Todai-Ji 東大寺 - Nara .


daibutsu no te ni aru omoi hinataboko

like lying
in the palm of the Great Buddha—
winter sunshine

Takaha Shugyo 鷹羽狩行
Tr. Hoshino Tsunehiko & Adrian Pinnington

I feel like sitting
in the hands of the Great Buddha —
basking in the winter sun

hinataboko ... to take a sunbath in winter, to sit in the winter sunshine
basking in the sun
kigo for all winter
when you sit at the veranda or a sheltered place and feel the warmth of the sunshine.

This haiku is about the feeling (omoi) of the author.


Issa has a few about the Great Buddha

daibutsu no hana kara detaru tsubame kana

from the great bronze
Buddha’s nose...
a swallow!

Tr. David Lanoue ... read more haiku here !

from Great Buddha’s
nose pour forth

Tr. Bob Jones

Related words

***** Shin Daibutsu-Ji 新大仏寺 New Daibutsu Temple
Iga, Mie. With a statue of Fudo Myo-O

***** Gods of Japan (kami to hotoke)... General introduction

***** Dead body, deceased person (hotoke)

***** Stone Buddhas and Haiku ... Gabi Greve

***** Imaizumi Sogetsu-ni . 今泉素月尼


東大寺大佛 The Big Buddha of Todai-Ji
Asano Takeji 浅野竹二 (1900 - 1999)

大仏 Kamakura Daibutsu
Kawase Hasui 月川瀬 巴水 (1883 – 1957)





Anonymous said...


daibutsu no mimi ni amaoto hatsushigure

sound of rain
for the Great Buddha’s ear
first winter rain
甲斐輝子 Teruko Kai
(tr. Fay Aoyagi)

Gabi Greve said...

Tokyo Daibutsu 東京大仏 Great Buddha of Tokyo
Joorenji 乗蓮寺 Joren-Ji

板橋区赤塚5-28 / 5 Chome-28 Akatsuka, Itabashi ward