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Ushidō Travel: jugyu 十牛: Ten Ox Herding Pictures in Kyoto

May 2, 2010

If you’re a cow, no visit to Kyoto would be complete without a visit to the Jotenkaku Museum at Shōkoku-ji temple in northern Kyoto.

This museum houses one of the greatest treasures of Zen Buddhism, which also happens to be one of the greatest treasures of Ushidō.

The treasure consists of ten ox herding paintings, attributed to the monk Shubun (1414-63), and ten poems by Zekkai Chushin (1336-1405). The paintings are said to be copies of originals by a 12th century Chinese Zen master named Kakuan Shi-en (Kuo-an Shih-yuan).

The paintings explain the process of achieving enlightenment by showing it as if one were instead herding cows. My favorite is painting #8, “Both Bull and Self Transcended,” which is empty.

You can see the paintings and poems here. Click on each of the ten images to see the painting together with the poem. Translations of the poems can be found here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    January 9, 2014 2:20 am

    No 8 isn’t empty – it’s just that the cow and the man are both out of sight…

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