Kongosanmai-in, a special main temple of the Shingon sect on Mount Koya, was established by the petition of Lady Hojo Masako to mourn the soul of Minamoto no Yoritomo, also known as Kamakura-dono, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate. When the entire region was registered as a World Heritage Site under the name "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" in the 16th year of Heisei, Kongosanmai-in was the only temple among the sub-temples of Mount Koya to receive World Heritage status, making it a prestigious and historic temple.
The central deity in the main hall of Kongosanmai-in is the statue of Aizen Myoo, with a height of 215 cm, believed to have been created by Unkei based on the likeness of Yoritomo. After Yoritomo's passing, the statue was transferred from Kamakura to this temple, symbolizing the bond between Yoritomo and Lady Masako. Unkei, a renowned Buddha sculptor in Japan, is praised as comparable to Michelangelo. The "World Heritage Mount Koya Kongosanmai-in Aizen Myoo Statue" reproduces Unkei's masterful skills in a miniature metal statue, approximately 8 cm in height (about 1/26 scale).
Aizen Myoo is known for connecting various relationships, and by reproducing this in a miniature size, it becomes portable at all times. The theme is to always be with the owner, providing support and wishing for the occurrence of many positive connections.
Unlike Unkei, who used hammer and chisel, modern technology and knowledge were employed in this project. High-precision 3D scans of the "Aizen Myoo Statue" were conducted, creating precise modeling data to reproduce Unkei's skills in a miniature size of about 8 cm. Using this data, Iifuku Precision Co., Ltd., a company specializing in the production of micron-scale precision medical components, applied their cutting-edge 3D metal printing technology to Buddha statue creation, successfully reproducing Unkei's spirit in stainless steel.
Do you know about 3D printing, a modern manufacturing technology? It involves creating three-dimensional objects, even with intricate and detailed shapes, using 3D data.
This technology has applications not only in the personal hobby world but also in various industries. While 3D printing is commonly used for creating objects with resin, metal objects are limited to a few industrial applications due to the high cost of the machines. Metal 3D printing is primarily used for making molds and producing small quantities of parts where mold depreciation is not feasible. It is also used in crafting rare parts for classic cars and precision components for medical equipment that demand delicacy and accuracy.
The manufacturer focused on the ability to produce "micron-scale precision medical machine parts" and planned to use the latest technology, metal 3D printing, to create a precise and palm-sized miniature Buddha statue that was not achievable before. The completed product boasts a quality that is entirely different from metal Buddha statues available in the market, representing a "precision Buddha statue beyond the limits of human hands." Although smaller Buddha statues may exist, this product takes pride in achieving world-class precision in metal Buddha statue creation.
Creating a mere 8 cm Aizen Myoo statue using a metal 3D printer presented two significant challenges. One was the processing of 3D data. Scaling down the actual scanning data, which was 214.5 cm in height, to 1/26 inevitably resulted in loss of detail. Therefore, efforts were directed towards creating 3D data that could faithfully capture the form, overall atmosphere, and balance of the Buddha statue without compromising its integrity. The second challenge was the approach to integral modeling. Instead of traditional segmented modeling with retrofitted parts, the team pursued integral modeling of the Buddha's body, successfully expressing intricate details such as the lion crown and decorations on the head.
The finished Aizen Myoo statue, approximately 8 cm in size and created by a metal 3D printer, incorporates innovative approaches and is expected to be passed down as the "Aizen Myoo statue created with the latest and best technology of the time" to the next generation.
Ifuku Precision Co., Ltd., headquartered at the "Kobe Ironworks Cooperative Association," one of the oldest iron industrial sites in Japan, has a history of 50 years in precision machining. They have introduced the latest technology, metal 3D printing, based on their experience and achievements in processing various metal products. They have traveled to Germany multiple times to acquire cutting-edge technology, learning from engineers at the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA, making them one of the few companies in Japan that possess advanced metal 3D printing technology along with digital design and precision machining capabilities.
The Aizen Myoo statue, commissioned by Lady Masako upon the passing of Minamoto no Yoritomo, or possibly commissioned by Yoritomo himself as a life-sized Buddha, reflects the strong connection between the temple and the Kamakura shogunate. The peeling red lacquer on the statue, which has been revered for a long time, exposes a strong wrathful expression, emphasizing the significant influence of Unkei, who resided in the eastern region at that time.
Established in the first year of the Kenryaku era (1211) to mourn the soul of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, the temple originated from the Zenjo-in founded by Lady Hojo Masako, the wife and nun shogun. Renamed Kongosanmai-in in the first year of the Jokyu era (1219), the temple flourished with the support of powerful warrior families and the shogunate, preserving rare remnants of the Kamakura period within the mountain, including the Tahoto Pagoda (a national treasure) and the Kyozo (an important cultural property). Playing a crucial role as the fundamental temple during the 2004 World Heritage registration of Mount Koya, it is now cherished as a lodging temple that conveys the elegance of the Kamakura period.
Aizen Myoo plays a role in transforming the irresistible desires of human suffering and lust into the mind of enlightenment (bodhi mind). Due to its ability to form various connections, it has been widely worshipped since the Kamakura period for various blessings, not only for love fulfillment but also for general well-being, victory in battles, and more.
With a third eye that sees through all worlds on its forehead, adorned with a lion crown featuring five vajra hooks, and sitting on a lotus flower blooming from a treasure vase, Aizen Myoo showcases the wisdom of enlightenment. The completed "Aizen Myoo Statue" undergoes a consecration ceremony at the main hall of Kongosanmai-in on Mount Koya, imbued with prayers for the fulfillment of various wishes, and is delivered with a certificate of prayer to each recipient.