Statue of Kuse Kannon
This seventh-century statue of Kuse Kannon is one of Horyuji Temple’s most mysterious treasures. The Kuse Kannon is believed to have the power to save people from suffering. The sculptor created this 179-centimeter tall image by carving it from a single piece of camphor wood and gilding it from head to toe. Legend has it that this Kannon is a depiction of Shotoku Taishi. The statue is remarkably well-preserved because the temple rarely unveils it to the public in honor of the prince.
When the American historian of Japanese art Ernest Fenollosa (1853–1908) and Japanese scholar and artist Okakura Tenshin (1863–1913) visited the temple during the Meiji period in 1884, they decided to unwrap the statue against the priests’ dire warnings. The statue can now be seen twice a year for about a month each during the spring and fall.