Kuse Kannon (Avalokitesvara the Savior)
Asuka Period: mid 6th - beginning of 8th c.
The monk Gyōshin Sōzu constructed in 739 a temple called the Jōgūōin, or Jōgūō-Temple—Jōgūō being another name for Prince Shōtoku—as a monument to the memory of the prince. He built this temple, the current Eastern Precinct, on the site where the Ikaruga Palace, which was built in 601, originally stood. The heart of the precinct is the Hall of Visions. Within this octagonal pavilion—the oldest of its kind in Japan-is enshrined the Kuse Kannon, or Avalokitesvara the Savior (Asuka Period), a life-size statue of Prince Shōtoku. Piously kept in its shrine throughout the centuries, this Hidden Statue has survived in a perfect state of preservation to this day. Retaining even its original gilding. Around the statue stand various others, including the Heian-period ShōKannon Bosatsu, or Sacred Avalokitesvara; a Kamakura-period statue depicting the filial piety of Prince Shōtoku; a Nara-period dry-lacquer statue of Gyōshin Sōzu, the monk who built the East Precinct, and a Heian-period clay image of Dōsen Risshi, the monk who supervised the repair of the Hall of Visions during the Heian Period. The Hall of Visions is enclosed by a cloister-gallery and the Kamakura-period Hall of Worship (Raidō), which was originally the Central Gate (Chūmon) of the Eastern Precinct. Many people say that the Hall of Visions-a sanctuary erected to pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Shōtoku, who is said to have been a manifestation of the Kuse Kannon-is enveloped in a peculiar, mystical atmosphere.