Restoration of Enichi-ji Temple’s Seated Buddha completed

The restoration of the ancient Healing Buddha statue, collaboration between the town of Bandai and the Tokyo University of Arts, has begun over three years ago. SIGMA supported the statue’s restoration in the role of a donor.
On July 30, 2018, the project finally finished and the restored temple site opened its doors to the public once again.
In this article, we would like to introduce briefly the finished Seated Healing Buddha statue and the ceremony that was held to celebrate the re-opening.
A previous article outlining the restoration efforts of the Tokyo University of the Arts in great depth can be found on SEIN Online here.

Text: SEIN Online Team / Photographs: Hisanori Kojima; SEIN Online Team


Enichi-ji Temple and the Seated Healing Buddha statue

Enichi-ji Temple is a designated historic site located in the town of Bandai in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, very near SIGMA’s unique production facility in Aizu.
The history of the shrine extends more than 1200 years into the past. Unfortunately, parts of the temple and its sacred objects were partially or completely destroyed during natural disasters and wars.

In 1970, the temple grounds were designated a national historic site; a museum was established and a survey held to investigate the site and its remaining ruins. The year also marks the beginning of efforts to restore the main temple and its central gate building. Step by step, the temple resurfaced in its original state.

In 2015, specialists from the Sculpture Conservation Laboratory of Tokyo University of the Arts’ Graduate Department of Conservation were entrusted with the difficult task of restoring the temple’s sacred Seated Healing Buddha statue. Three long and labor-intense years later the restoration was finished, and on July 30, 2018, the temple was re-opened to the public with a festive ceremony.

Part of the statue’s unveiling ceremony
Kazuki Sawa (president of the Tokyo University of the Arts and master violinist) gave a performance during the opening ceremony

The Seated Healing Buddha – still covered in black patina when we first visited the site for our March 2018 article – now glows in a rich, golden color. Placed in its original location inside the main temple, the Buddha statue is a sight to behold. The researchers from the Tokyo University of the Arts based the intricacies of their work – how and how much gold leaf to apply, the specifics of the artificial aging process etc. – on carefully researched historical materials in order to restore the statue with a balanced and nonartificial appearance.

“As we neared completion, my main concern was how we were going to move the one-ton Buddha statue safely back into the main hall. We created a detailed plan of when and how each individual part would be transported and assembled, and thanks to our preparations everything went smoothly on the day of action”, says project manager and Tokyo University of the Arts professor Dr. Hisanori Kojima (Ph.D. in Sculpture, Conservation & Restoration).

From the statue’s shape, the manufacturing methods and even the final finishing touches, all techniques and tools used during the restoration project were based on remaining documents and research into the historical background of the statue’s creation period.

Related article:
+SIGMA vol.2|The restorations efforts of Enichi-ji Temple’s Seated Buddha Statue

Visiting Enichi-ji Temple & the Seated Healing Buddha statue

The restored Seated Healing Buddha is part of Enichi-ji Temple in Bandai town in Japan. The temple is open to the public.

■ Mt. Bandai Enichi-ji Temple Museum
Address: Teranishi 38, Bandai, Yama District, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
Opening period: April 1st – November 30th (open on all days)
Opening hours: 9:00–17:00 (museum, main temple grounds & central gate) (last admission: 16:30)
Admission: General & students: ¥500 / high-school students: ¥400 / elementary & middle-school students: ¥300
(The photograph shows part of the museum’s outdoor exhibition)

A Buddhist verse recital followed the unveiling ceremony
A concert featuring classical Japanese music was held in the evening. The photograph shows the stage shortly before the beginning of the concert. The Buddha statue, restored and returned to its original position in the temple, is a magnificent sight in the twilight, too.

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