For some reason it seems to be very hard to find good films about Japanese Buddhist culture, but here is one by NHK, which is entitled “Buddhist Statues, Figures of belief and beauty”.
This short documentary takes us on a tour of some of the more famous Buddhist statues in the temples around the old capital of Kyoto, and explains something of their iconography and significance.
We see the various types of Buddha statue, including different images of Sakyamuni, Amitabha, Mahavairocana and Bhaisajyaguru. There are also images of various Bodhisattvas from the Mahayana tradition, including Ksitigarbha and Avalokitesvara; and some of the protective gods like Indra and Brahma.
We also see the work of one of the master image makers of the present day Busshi Myokei Matsumoto, who has been making images for over 40 years, and who describes his work as finding the image within the stone or piece of wood he is dealing with.
In just 30 minutes we find out quite a lot about the meaning and significance of these statues culturally and for people in their everyday lives, and the film also includes overviews of Buddhist cosmology and teaching.
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