Unique and Rare Images in Japan

Statues, sculptures, and fountains

By Elena Lisina    - 3 min read

In Japan it’s easy to meet such statues as komainu (lion dogs), kitsune (foxes), or giant guardians of temples as they are everywhere, but during my trips I also met unique, one-of-a-kind statues, and other rare images.

This year is the Year of the Rat, or nezumi in Japanese. I saw stone sculptures of rats just once – it was somewhere in East Kyoto, located near the Philosophers’ Path. I liked those sculptures for being expressive.

The image of a monkey, or saru in Japanese, is not very common and it makes one temple of Nikko unique. The temple features different scenes with monkeys carved from wood including three monkeys: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The carving is rather small, but very famous!

Famous monkey trio in Nikko
Famous monkey trio in Nikko

Visiting the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Todai-ji temple in Nara I suddenly noticed metal butterflies placed on a vase. I was amazed at the zoological accuracy they were made with, and took some photos. I have never seen any sculptures of butterflies anywhere else in Japan. Other unique images I've seen at temples include a huge sandal made from straw at the entrance to Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa, Tokyo), a stone Buddha in Nagano Prefecture made from a whole rock dating back to 1660 AD, a lotus made from bronze near Kamakura Daibutsu, and water lilies made from metal in Nikko.

Stone Buddha, Nagano Prefecture
Stone Buddha, Nagano Prefecture

Some other interesting and unique sculptures I can list include a snail and a grasshopper made from metal near Ikebukuro Station, a wasabi root at a wasabi plantation, a trio of goblins in Nagano, a huge rose near Roppongi's Mori Tower, and a colorful sculpture of a little boy in Matsumoto. In Ito there is a seaside park with many modern unique sculptures.

Unique sculptures of Ito
Unique sculptures of Ito

On several occasions I came across non-Japanese images, such as "La Bocca Della Verita" which means “The Mouth of Truth”, signed as a gift from the City Committee of the festival Sole (Rieti Province). It was also a funny surprise to encounter a character from the popular Russian children's book “Crocodile Gena” at the Chihiro Art Museum. Another unexpected encounter was finding a copy of the Statue of Liberty on Odaiba Island.

La Bocca Della Verita, or “The Mouth of Truth” in Ito
La Bocca Della Verita, or “The Mouth of Truth” in Ito

Was this article helpful?

Suggest an edit

0
4
Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!