Nishimura Kocho (西村公朝)

Kocho NISHIMURA (June 4, 1915 - December 2, 2003) was a busshi (sculptor of Buddhist Statues), Buddhist Statues repair specialist, and Buddhist priest. He was born in Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture.

In 1935, he entered Tokyo School of Fine Arts (present Tokyo University of Arts). He aspired to be a sculptor at the sculpture course in the Department of Sculpture. When he was a senior, he visited Kyoto and Nara in an antiquities study tour of the school and was deeply moved by the Horyu-ji Temple. He graduated in the following year and became an art teacher at a private junior high school (under the old system of education) in Osaka, but he quitted by the end of the year. Soon he entered the Kokuho Shurijo (atelier to restore national treasures) of the Nihon Bijitsuin (The Japan Art Institute) to devote himself to repair Buddhist statues. In 1942, he was recruited by the army when he participated in repairing Juichimen senju kannon sentaizo at Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto. He was transferred to one place after another in China. During these days, he said he had dreams of hundreds of thousands of destroyed Buddhist statues that looked asking him to repair them. He was demobilized in 1945 and returned to repair work at Sanjusangendo Temple. Since then, he trained himself as a busshi and a Buddhist Statues repair specialist. In 1951, when he was at the age of 37 by the traditional Japanese system, he enter the Buddhist priesthood of Tendai Sect. While he played the role of the Director of the Kokuho Shurijo of the Nihon Bijitsuin and a professor of Tokyo University of the Arts, he became the chief priest of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple in Kyoto in 1955 to restore the temple. In addition to being a sculptor and repair specialist of Buddhist statues and Buddhist priest, he wrote guide books for Buddhist statues for general readers.

Brief Personal History

1951 Entered the Buddhist priesthood
1955 Became the chief priest of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
1959 Became the Director of the Kokuho Shurijo of the Nihon Bijitsuin
1974 Became a professor of Tokyo University of the Arts
1988 Became a part-time professor of Takarazuka University of Art and Design
2003 Died at the age of 89

Masterpieces

Statue of Jikaku Daishi in Chuson-ji Temple
Shaka Nyorai-zazo (the sitting statue of Shakamuni) in Enryaku-ji Kaidan-in Temple
Ceiling and walls paintings and statues of ten major disciples of Shakamuni in rakando (an arhats hall) of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
Freai Kannon-zo (statue of the Kannon) in Ryuge-in Temple (Taiwa-cho, Kurokawa-gun, Miyagi Prefecture)

Books

Yasashii Butsuzo no Mikata (Beginners' Guide to Appreciate Buddhist Statues)
Hotoke no Kao (Faces of Buddhist Statues)
Butsuzo no Saihakken (Re-discovery of Buddhist Statues)
Inori no Zokei (Modeling of Prayer)
Butsuzo no Miwakekata (How to Identify Buddhist Statues)
Hokekyo (the Lotus Sutra)
Mikkyo Nyumon (Introduction to Esoteric Buddhism)
Waga Hannya Shingyo (My Heart Sutra)
Butsuzo ha Kataru (Buddhist Statues Speak)
Gokuraku no Kanko Annai (Tourist Guide to the Heaven)
Butsuzo no Koe (Voices of Buddhist Statues)
Unkei: Butsuzo Chokoku no Kakumei (Unkei: Revolution of Sculpture of Buddhist Statues)