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Sanjusangen-do Temple and 1000 carved Kannon

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RogerS

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Out of all the places we visited in Japan, this one stood out for me particularly as it is woodie-related. The building itself is the longest wooden building in Japan.



Sanjusangendo was founded in 1164 by order of the retired emperor Goshirakawa. The original temple was destroyed by fire in 1249; the present structure dates from its rebuilding in 1266. But the real gems are inside. There are 1000 wooden carved Kannon and to see them in the flesh is humbling.



In front are wooden 28 Japanese deities and 2 traditional Buddhist Temple guardians and centrally inside is the 1000-armed Kannon. Many have eyes made from crystal and make the statues disturbingly lifelike....or maybe I've been watching too much Indiana Jones!



There are 20 pairs of arms but as each arm saves 25 worlds it symbolises the 1000 arms.

The technique used to make both this central Kannon and the other 1000 is called "Yusegi-zukuri" and was arrived at simply because (a) they could not find enough timber of a suitable size and quality to make the statues and (b) it was much easier to make them using this method. We would call it kit-assembly! The body is made from many partly hollowed blocks of wood, carved roughly. Then the surface of the body is finally carved and last the statue is coloured or japanned followed by being plated with gold leaf. These statues were made by 70 or more carvers and construction took over 15 years.

As photography is strictly forbidden inside under pain of having your camera crushed and an eternity of damnation, I've taken these photos from the web. More info on the yosegi-zukuri technique is here http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/y ... ukuri.html
 

woodbloke

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...and this is my one, Matsumoto castle. It's the only original, preserved wooden castle in Japan (all the others are fero-concrete) and is five stories high





The stairs inside are incredibly steep and go up:



...at an angle of around 60deg, with the rise on each step being about 50cm

This shot is of the top floor:



...of the castle which is where the lord and his other generals gathered to plan tactics when the castle was under siege. Around the perimeter of each of the floors the corridors are extra wide so that samurai in full armour could run quickly from one spot to another - Rob
 

RogerS

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woodbloke":32m46nuc said:
...and this is my one, Matsumoto castle. It's the only original, preserved wooden castle in Japan (all the others are fero-concrete) and is five stories high

.....
Thats not strictly true, Rob. Himeji (White Egret) Castle is very much authentic and currently under restoration using traditional methods. For the first time, the Japanese have made provision for the public to view the restoration work going on and it was fascinating to see how they tackle similar problems to us.

As for Black Crow (Matsumoto Castle), you missed out the best bit! I took this picture of the way the roof timbers are constructed at the very top.

 

woodbloke

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RogerS":1gr756ge said:
woodbloke":1gr756ge said:
...and this is my one, Matsumoto castle. It's the only original, preserved wooden castle in Japan (all the others are fero-concrete) and is five stories high

.....
Thats not strictly true, Rob. Himeji (White Egret) Castle is very much authentic and currently under restoration using traditional methods. For the first time, the Japanese have made provision for the public to view the restoration work going on and it was fascinating to see how they tackle similar problems to us.

As for Black Crow (Matsumoto Castle), you missed out the best bit! I took this picture of the way the roof timbers are constructed at the very top.

Then our guide told us a fib Rog :( I have the same shot as you of the roof timbers at the top...didn't post it though - Rob
 

RogerS

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What impressed me with the Black Crow was the vertical supports from the floor below that formed part of the inner structure, when carried up to the next floor became the outer vertical supports and so on.

Like you, the slightly lower 'corridor' around the perimeter of the floor for the samurai to charge round in defence was very impressive and you could imagine them doing it. Black Crow is a super donjon and well worth the visit.
 

Ollie78

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Wow, this is totally awesome.

I have always loved the Japanese style buildings, I am envious of your trip to Japan. Since I bought a book on Japanese joinery I have been dreaming of building a workshop in this style in my garden. Lottery win permitting.

Thanks for posting, have you seen this http://vimeo.com/3767414 .

Ollie
 

woodbloke

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RogerS":30q3l8hr said:
What impressed me with the Black Crow was the vertical supports from the floor below that formed part of the inner structure, when carried up to the next floor became the outer vertical supports and so on.

Like you, the slightly lower 'corridor' around the perimeter of the floor for the samurai to charge round in defence was very impressive and you could imagine them doing it. Black Crow is a super donjon and well worth the visit.
In fact most of the wooden structures, including the everyday houses are fascinating to look at, particularly in the older Geisha parts of the cities. All the temples and shrines we visited were wooden but many had been continually rebuilt owing to earthquakes and fire. One of the most impressive is the...



...Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto, which is a massive structure built entirely of timber on the side of the hill...

with a pic of yours truly...



...complete with pink shirt and purple socks (well...gota be better than Jim's smurf shirt! :lol: ) making a wish that all his dovetails could be forever perfect (not saying what I actually wished for :wink: ) - Rob
 

RogerS

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I know! Many of their buildings are very impressive although one thing that surprised me was the apparent lack of, for example, pegs for securing joints or any other form of keying. Possibly that's to let the stuff slip and slide during an earthquake?

When you were in Kyoto did you go to the Ninja Temple. That was very very interesting to see all the tricks and clever devices they designed into the building to fool anyone breaking in.
 

woodbloke

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RogerS":2j8evh1f said:
When you were in Kyoto did you go to the Ninja Temple. That was very very interesting to see all the tricks and clever devices they designed into the building to fool anyone breaking in.
Didn't go to that one Rog, but as there are gazillions of the things in Kyoto and they'll all fabulous, it's no surprise we missed that one...definitely on the next trip. What we did see (or rather hear) was the Nightingale Floor at Nijo Castle which was incredible...it's impossible to walk on it without it making a squeak - Rob
 
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