It is said that the Japanese Buddhist monk Enku (1632-1695) carved as many as 120,000 wooden Buddha statues during his lifetime pilgrimage to shrines nationwide.
He is renowned for the respect he had for the wood he worked with, taking into account and highlighting its natural features. His sculptures were unvarnished and he exposed gnarls and coarse planes that others might have considered as flaws. His sculptures therefore appear humble yet also vibrant with the unique qualities of each piece of wood used.
This exhibition showcases about 100 of Enku’s Buddha statues, including 61 from Senkoji Temple in Hida, Gifu Prefecture; Jan. 12-April 7.
Tokyo National Museum; (03) 5405-8686; 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo; Ueno Station, JR Yamanote Line. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (till 8 p.m. on Fridays in March and April; till 6 p.m. on April 6 and 7) ¥900. Closed Mon. (except Jan. 14, Feb. 11), Jan. 15, Feb. 12. www.tnm.jp/?lang=en.