“Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan that features over 1,200 stone figures representing Rakan, or disciples of Shaka (the founder of Buddhism), that were mostly carved by amateurs from across the country under the guidance of sculptor Kocho Nishimura. Each sculpture is a whimsical display of expressive faces, adding a playful element to the spiritual environment.
The figurative sculptures were first donated in 1981, only a little over 30 years ago, allowing the present temple, a reconstruction of its former self which was originally built in the middle of the eighth century, to become known for its humorous figures. Now the smiling faces and expressive gestures still manage to translate through the moss that covers them. Even during winter, when snow coats the small, stone bodies, one can make out the playfully spirited figures.”