Vintage Buddhist Statue – Sleeping Boy Japanese Ceramic

This charming older looking ceramic figurine depicts a small boy sleeping on a Buddhist temple drum. I wasn’t sure of the story behind this figure until I visited a Zen Buddhist temple near our home here in Japan, and noticed a similar statue in the garden there. I asked the priest’s brother if he could tell me about the statue, and he informed me that it depicts a famous Buddhist monk who, as a child, once fell asleep while on duty playing the drum for a temple service. As in some other religions, it seems that in Buddhism children are sometimes given duties during the religious service. Large and small wooden drums similar to the one this boy is using as his pillow are common sights in Japanese Buddhist temples, and even in the homes of Japanese who have a home altar or butsudan. I was told that the boy is sometimes portrayed with a small animal companion (usually a cat or rat) resting upon his shoulder.

About the Listed Item

This figure is less than 40 years old and in fair condition with no cracks though there are marks and scratches from handling and the figure and base wear a darkened patina of age. There is a chip visible on the back side of the left ear of the rat. The statue includes a fitted wooden box with lid. The box is also darkened with age and a small piece of wood seems to be missing from the top of the box near where the lid fits into place. The item was acquired in the historic city of Shizuoka, Japan near the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Size:
Height of statue (excluding base): 1.6 inches (4.2 centimeters)
Weight of all items together: 2.5 ounces (71 grams)

item code: R1S5-0005641
ship code: L1650

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Shinto Shrine Torii Gates Passage

Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism).  Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself.  The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.”  Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist.  The Japanese have built thousands of shrines (jinja) throughout the country to honor and worship these gods.  Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities.  Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside.

Shinto gods are called kamiKami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami.  The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii, cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine.  Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope.  The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle.  This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god.  The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again.  In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent prayer.  Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan.  Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.

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Welcome to the the Japan Shrine and Temples blog. Exploring Japan’s spiritual infrastructure.

Find us on YouTube at the following URL:
http://www.youtuSalesio User be.com/user/ShrinesandTemples

Please visit our blog at the following URL:
https://shrinesandtemples.wordpress.com

Follow us on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/ShrinesTemples

Interested in talking with others about Japan?
Please visit our forum at: http://softypapa.net