‘Scroll that cannot be hung’ on display at Nara temple

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A replica of the Miei Daigajiku scroll, produced by high-resolution scanning of the original, is shown in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture.

SAKURAI, Nara – A replica of one of the nation’s largest hanging scrolls, depicting the statue of the eleven-faced kannon enshrined at Hasedera temple in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, is being displayed for the first time at the temple’s main hall. Hasedera temple is the headquarters of the Shingonshu sect’s Buzan division.

The Miei Daigajiku scroll is also referred to as “the scroll that cannot be hung,” because it is 16.5 meters long and 6.2 meters wide. The original scroll is said to have been made as a blueprint for the reconstruction of the standing statue, almost in actual size, after it was destroyed by fire in 1495. Having been colored and mounted on a scroll shaft, the Miei Daigajiku was completed during the Edo period (1603-1867).

The scroll depicts the kannon statue in the center, holding a shakujo stick in the right hand and a water vase in the left. It is flanked by the statues of Uho Doji and Nanda Ryuo.

In the past, the scroll was shown to the public at various locations in the nation to convey the size of the statue.

The replica was made by scanning the scroll at a high resolution using letterpress technology and printing it on cloth of the same size in February this year.

The original scroll weighs 125 kilograms, but the replica weighs only about 30 kilograms. The replica can be folded down to about the size of one tatami mat, and is expected to be lent out mainly to temples of the Buzan division around the nation for public viewing.

A spokesman for the temple said: “We hope people will physically experience the size of the statue, and get encouraged by overcoming a sense of stagnation brought by the pandemic.”

The scroll will be on display until June 30.

The temple is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the temple grounds is ¥500, with an additional ¥500 charged to enter the exhibition space where the scroll is displayed.