The Giant Buddha at Le Shan (乐山大佛) is carved directly out of the mountainside overlooking the river. It is located in the southern part of the Chinese province of Sichuan, and together with Mount Emei is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The seated Buddha is so large that humans are dwarfed by a single toe of the Buddha. This photo was taken about halfway down the perilous walkway carved into the cliff-face next to the Buddha.
Although Le Shan is rather short compared to many mountains, and the Chinese character “shān 山” can refer to hills as well as mountains, Le Shan is typically translated into English as a “mountain” and therefore will be considered one for the Mountain theme of the travel photo challenge. Indeed it is a mountain of great historical, religious, and artistic importance, and still attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every day. I had to wait in line for two hours before I could walk down the steep, uneven, and narrow stairway that lead from the Buddha’s head to his feet, and I was told that I wasn’t even there during a “busy” time.
Thai Laughing Buddha In Garden by Seas Reflecting Starlight
This photo of a Laughing Buddha statue was taken in a garden near Bangkok, Thailand. The Laughing Buddha (Budai in Chinese, Hotei in Japanese) was inspired by a Chinese Chan (Zen) monk who is considered to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha. Through Chinese influence, the Laughing Buddha became popular in Thailand and other East Asian countries. He is portrayed as a laughing bald and plump man, often carrying a bag and prayer beads. He symbolizes happiness, wealth, prosperity, and luck.
This design is based on my photo of the Nara Daibutsu (Large Buddha), one of the largest indoor Buddha statues in the world at 15 meters tall. It is located in Nara, one of the historical capitals of Japan, in Todaiji – a temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I love Nara. It’s only a short train ride from Kyoto, and is a small easily walkable town. The cute little friendly deer are everywhere, and will eat crackers right out of your hand. It’s a very picturesque and peaceful setting, that’s also great for a history buff like me who likes to wander around ancient temples, museums, and historical sites. Nara is a place where you can feed a few deer, visit a great awe-inspiring Buddha so large you cannot even reach his hand, stop to relax under the falling momiji leaves while sipping a nice hot cup of matcha, and still have ample time to stroll through the various winding trails around the town. It’s a window into the traditional Japan of olden days, without the same modern bustling of nearby Kyoto.
This art piece illustrates Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of Love. Inspiration for this artwork came from a popular verse:
I am a link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing, and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that what I do now depends not only my happiness or unhappiness, but also that of others. May every link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love be bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.
The verse was written right here in Hawai’i, and is one of my favorite Jodo Shinshu verses because of its themes of compassion, unity, interconnection, peace, and love – as well as for the beautiful imagery it inspires. May we all attain perfect peace.