Today's blog post takes us, on a daytrip from Kyoto, to Nara, capital of Japan in the eighth century, and today famous for (amongst other things) the deer roaming Nara Park. Wikipedia tells me that "according to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, the god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō; since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country."
Today, the Narans make their money selling crackers for tourists to feed to the deer:
I think the above is Yakushi Nyorai, the "Buddha Master of Medicine".
One thinks of Japan being a long way removed from ancient Greek culture, but actually, there's a direct link: No pictorial representations of the Buddha were made during the first few centuries of Buddhism; but after Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and reconquered the provinces of it which had been lost over the previous few centuries, including the western edge of India, the Greek fondness for statuary found its way into Buddhism, and the spread of Buddhism ultimately brought that to Japan.
The daibutsu was surrounded by statues of lots of other Buddhist deities:
This statue, made from a single block of Japanese cypress, is thought to date from the ninth century.
Nyoirin Kannon, a boddhisatva known as the Goddess of Mercy:lethargic_man's Japan blog posts —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.