Monday, August 2, 2010

The Michelangelo of Echigo Part 2

Another great work by Uncho
I went to see another great work by the “Michelangelo of Echigo, ” Ishikawa Uncho.  (Echigo is a former name of Niigata Prefecture). Earlier last month, I had joined a tour to view his greatest works on display at Honjoji Temple, the Head Temple of the Hokke Sect, located in Sanjo City. However, many of his masterpieces are possessed by some of the other notable temples and shrines across Echigo.

This time, I visited “Isurugi Shrine” in Yoshinoya in Sanjo City’s Sakae area. It is famous for its devotion to medicine. It also possesses one of Uncho’s finest works from the latter part of his career.

It was a sweltering, hot day, and I sweated a river while fighting a squadron of mosquitoes as I climbed the hundred narrow and steep steps leading to the small, but highly dignified shrine. However, as you can see from the photo below, it was well worth the effort. The sculpture, located at the entrance of the shrine, features a dragon, waves, turtles, carps, and Fu Lions. The dragon appeared to me as if it were about to jump off the beam onto which it was carved and fly away.