Past Exhibitions

Saved by the Buddhas: Images of Hells and the Pure Land
August 11, 2015 - September 13, 2015

Japanese of every age have had profound interest in the Buddhist hells and the heavenly Pure Land paradise. In pre-modern Japan, those who felt they had sinned were often consumed by fears of hell in a way almost unimaginable today. For this reason, Buddhists of the past fervently worshiped the bodhisattva Jizō (Kṣitigarbha), who was known to rescue sinners from the depths of hell, and they chanted the Mantra of Light (Kōmyō shingon), believed to absolve sins.
Numerous Buddhist tales (setsuwa) describing the saving of true believers from the punishments of hell have been handed down to the present day. This exhibition features handscrolls illustrating such tales of suffering and salvation. It is timed to coincide with the celebration of the Bon (or Obon), the Buddhist festival for the dead, and the Jizō Bon festival for children, as well as the exhibition The Eastward Expansion of Buddhism.

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