300 year old Kannon statue in Balboa Park!

Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden by crane!
Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden!

Several days ago an astonishing 5750 pound bronze statue, created in 1735 by Takumi Obata, was installed by crane at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

I must apologize, because up until now I have been referring to the new statue as a Great Buddha. After seeing the magnificent sculpture firsthand today, and reading more about it, I’ve learned that it’s actually a kannon statue, representing Kannon Bosatsu, a Buddhist goddess of mercy that is popular in Japan. The deity is called Guanyin in other parts of Asia, and has its origin in India in the 1st or 2nd century.

The amazing, nearly 300 year old cast bronze statue sits beside the Japanese Friendship Garden’s new stream in the Lower Garden, among peaceful trees that invite meditation.

Originally this Kannon Bosatsu was located at the Middlegate Japanese Garden in Pass Christian, Mississippi. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed that garden, the damaged statue was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Gabrych, who later donated it to San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

A second statue that was donated to JFG also was installed several days ago. The large guardian deity stands in the Upper Garden, opposite the bonsai collection. I’m told that less is known about the exact history of this particular sculpture. I believe it represents Kongorikishi, one of the two Nio guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.

Enjoy these photos, then head over to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park for the full experience!

Kannon Bosatsu sits tranquilly in a beautiful corner of the Japanese Friendship Garden near the source of a new stream.
Kannon Bosatsu sits tranquilly in a beautiful corner of the Japanese Friendship Garden near the source of a new stream.
Nearby sign describes Kannon Bosatsu, created in 1735 by Japanese sculptor Takumi Obata, an accomplished iron smith during to Tokugawa period. (Click photo to enlarge image.)
Nearby sign describes Kannon Bosatsu, created in 1735 by Japanese sculptor Takumi Obata, an accomplished iron smith during to Tokugawa period. (Click photo to enlarge image.)
The large bronze Kannon Bosatsu represents the Japanese goddess of mercy.
The large bronze Kannon Bosatsu represents the Japanese goddess of mercy.
A closer photo of the serene Kannon Bosatsu.
A closer photo of the serene Kannon Bosatsu.
A leaf has turned and fallen into the lap of a merciful deity
A leaf has turned and fallen into the lap of a merciful deity.
Gazing from the statue down the new stream toward a new bare wood observation platform.
Gazing from the statue down the new stream toward a new bare wood observation platform.
A simple, elegant wooden platform straddles the new stream in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A simple, elegant wooden platform straddles the new stream in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Nature's elements will make this structure more beautiful over time.
Nature’s elements will make this structure more beautiful over time.
Gazing down at the second half of the new stream to where it joins the Lower Garden's main river.
Gazing from the platform down at the second half of the new stream, to where it joins the Lower Garden’s main river.
The new stream is already very beautiful.
The new stream is already very beautiful.
It's now winter in the Japanese Friendship Garden, and great beauty is everywhere.
It’s now winter in the Japanese Friendship Garden, and great beauty is everywhere.
The guardian deity statue that now stands opposite the bonsai collection in the Upper Garden.
The guardian deity statue that now stands opposite the bonsai collection in the Upper Garden.
I believe this statue represents Kongorikishi, one of the guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.
I believe this statue represents Kongorikishi, one of the guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is a place to find peace, wisdom and healing.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is a place to find peace, wisdom and healing.
An historic addition to an already very special place.
An historic addition to an already very special place.

To see photos that I took as the stream and observation platform were under construction, click here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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