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Words-and-Pictures: The Buddhas of the Five Directions

Note: This selection of Words-and-Pictures was made on September 21, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido.

The Buddhas of the Five Directions (Jp.  Gochi Nyorai) are between Okabe and Fujieda in Shizuoka Prefecture.  These are Stations #21 and 22 respectively (from Tokyo) on the Old Tokaido Highway.  You can read about my visit to the Gochi Nyorai in my Logbook.

First, I want to prove that these guys really are in a parking lot.

Here's a group shot, head on.  Read on to hear about a mystery.

Below I have shown the boys from left to right (according to name plates hanging above them), along with some information about each one.

  • Japanese Name: Kaifuke-o (Houshou) Nyorai
  • Chinese Name: Baosheng Rulai
  • Sanskrit Name: Ratnasambhava
  • Meaning of Name: The Jewel-born One, Origin of Jewels
  • Direction: The Buddha of the South

  • Japanese Name: Hodo (Ashuku) Nyorai
  • Chinese Name: Achu Rulai
  • Sanskrit Name: Akshobhya
  • Meaning of Name: Immovable, Unshakable
  • Direction: The Buddha of the East

  • Japanese Name: Dainichi Nyorai
  • Chinese Name: Dari Rulai
  • Sanskrit Name: Vairochana
  • Meaning of Name: He Who Is Like the Sun, The Radiating One
  • Direction: The Buddha of the Center

  • Japanese Name: Fukujoju (Shaka) Nyorai
  • Chinese Name: Bukongchengjiu Rulai
  • Sanskrit Name: Amoghasiddhi
  • Meaning of Name: Almighty Conqueror, He Who Unerringly Achieves His Goal
  • Direction: The Buddha of the North

  • Japanese Name: Amida Nyorai
  • Chinese Name: Amituo Rulai
  • Sanskrit Name: Amitabha
  • Meaning of Name: Infinite Light
  • Direction: The Buddha of the West

Now, here's the mystery: behind each figure sits another figure.  The hand-gestures (mudras) are identical, leading me to believe this is a second set of the same Buddhas.  But why?  Why are they seated behind?  Is there an esoteric meaning?  Or is it just storage?  Your ideas would be appreciated.

[Note: In 2003, one of my professors suggested that these represent emanations of the Buddhas, like ripples in a pond.]

Posted October 1, 2019

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