Nyorai(Tathāgata) for Japanese Buddha statue

What is a Nyorai(Tathāgata)?


“Nyorai” (如来)is the figure of the Buddha(Shakyamuni), who achieved enlightenment. The statues represent the figure of him. When you want to distinguish whether a statue is Buddha’s figure or not, 32 distinct physical features and 80 fine one, Sanjunisou-Hachijishukou“(三十二相八十種好) will help you. After the trainning, “Bosatsu”(菩薩) is finally able to be the eminence and bocome Nyorai.(learn more about Bosatsu)
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But in Japan, the dogma of Buddhism really branched off  many ways through the history. Along with it, several types of Nyorai showed up and became to take on each role. There are four major kinds of it, including Shaka-Nyorai, Amida-nyorai, Yakushi-nyorai, and Dainichi-nyorai.


Learn about the thirty-two physical features of Buddha





Shakanyorai-Ritsuzo, at Seiryoji Temple, Kyoto
Shakanyorai-Ritsuzo, at Seiryoji Temple, Kyoto(click to view in full size)


From the first, there was no other Buddha statue except this one in Japan. The Great Buddha statue at Asuka-dera, which is the oldest in Japan and built in Asuka Period, is included in the category of this type.



“Shaka”(釈迦) was the name of the tribe of Buddha, the name of earthly life was Gautama Siddhartha, belonged to. “A saint of Shaka tribe” (釈迦牟尼, Shakyamuni) was shortened to “Shaka”. So, “Shakanyorai” represents that Buddha who reached enlightenment. Soto school(曹洞宗) and Rinzai school(臨済宗) has especially placed the Budda statues for a principal image.
Shaka-nyorai for sale


Yakushi-Nyorai(薬師如来, Bhaiṣajya-guru)

Yakushinyorai, at Shin-Yakushiji Temple, Nara
Yakushinyorai, at Shin-Yakushiji Temple, Nara(click to view in full size)


Yakushi-Nyorai is a hierarch of Eastern Pure Land(Toho-joruri-kai, 東方浄瑠璃界). After all, Eastern Pure Land is the world of this time.


Only he can save people before they die. Holding a medicine pot in his left hand, he removes sickness from humans and gives repose. And Yakushi-Nyorai is the principal image for Tendai school(天台宗).
Yakushi-nyorai for sale


Amida-Nyorai(阿弥陀如来, Amitābha)

Amidanyoraizo at Houkaiji Temple, Kyoto
Amidanyoraizo at Houkaiji Temple, Kyoto(click to view in full size)


Amida-Nyorai is a hierarch of Western Pure Land. He has unlimited wisdom and life, and continue to save people. He has been always keeping forty eight pledges, and one of them is to save anyone who recites “Namuamidabutsu”(南無阿弥陀仏). For example, Byodo-in temple (平等院)  in Kyoto worships this god and the Buddha statue.


It is the dogma of Jodo-Shin school(浄土真宗) and many people in Kamakura Period became to have faith in Amida-Nyorai, because a man who kills the lives couldn’t had go to Pure Land. The Kamakura Great Buddha at Kotokuin(高徳院) is one of the  most popular in Japan, and he belong to this type.


Click! Learn More About the temple in Japan Amida-nyorai for sale


Dainichi-Nyorai(大日如来, Mahāvairocana)

Dainich-Nyorai,at Kotokuji Temple, Nikko, Tochigi
Dainich-Nyorai,at Kotokuji Temple, Nikko, Tochigi(click to view in full size)


In Esoteric Buddhism, “Dainichi-Nyorai” represents the universe and its truth. So, the researchers thought as all others are the incarnation of Dainichi-Nyorai. This Buddha statue  shows “Chiken-in”(智拳印) or “Jo-in”(定印) of In-zo(印相) . And his hair isn’t Rahotsu(螺髪) and done up.  He is mostly an object of worship in Shingon school(真言宗)
Dainichi-nyorai for sale


Biruushana-nyorai(毘盧舎那如来, Vairocana)

The Great Buddha at Todaiji
The Great Buddha at Todaiji


When Japanese people asked a name of Buddha statue in Japan, most of them would answer the Great Buddha at Todaiji. In Nara Period, Emperor Shomu(聖武天皇) learned that people had built the statue of Rushana-Buddha and was deeply moved.


He decided to make also the Great Buddha of Rushana-Buddha as a national project. After the  nine years, the construction completed in 752.


Rushana means the sun which sits in the center of the space. So the source of Buddhism come from the God. The base of a lotus flower has 1000 petals that each of them hold 10 billion worlds.


The right-hand shows Semui-in(施無畏印) and the left-hand Yogan-in(与願印) . The Buddha statues accompany with Nyoirin-kannon(如意輪観音) and Kokuzo-bosatsu(虚空蔵菩薩).





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