Juichimen Kannon, (Kannon with Eleven Faces) (十一面観音) (十一面観音)

Juichimen Kannon (ekadaza mukha in Sanskrit) is one of the venerable entities of Bosatsu, which is worshipped in Buddhism.
The Sanskrit name means 'eleven faces.'
It is one of the transformed bodies of Kannon Bodhisattva (Kannon Bosatsu) and is one of the Roku Kannon (Six Kannons). As the features were explained in 'Juichimen Shinjushin-kyo Sutra' translated by Genjo, it is a Bosatsu having 11 faces on the head except for a face on the main body.


The sanmayagyo (symbol) is a suihei, a small water bottle, and a glowing lotus. Shushi (Mikkyo, Esoteric Buddhism) (Shuji) is ka and hriiH.

It is also called Daikofusho Kannon, and it is said that the 10 faces on the front, back, left and right among the 11 faces on the head show Jicchi (ten stages) while the topmost Butsumen (the head of a Buddha) shows Buddhahood, or nirvana. It is said that this shows the pious act of cutting away 11 kinds of ignorance and the earthly desires (無明煩悩) of living things, and to open Buddhahood.
It is also called Daihi Sendai because it has a vow as 'I do not stop without relieving people (救わで止まんじ).'
As a role of Roku Kannon, it civilizes (摂化) living things in Ashura-do (the Asura realm).

In Japanese it has various names such as 'Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu' and 'Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu,' but the name assigned as a national treasure or important cultural property is 'Juichimen Kannon.'

Transmission to Japan

It seems to be a venerable status (尊格) that originated in India, but there is no distinguished work in India; however, its statues were produced eagerly in China and Japan through the dissemination of 'Juichimen Shinjushin-kyo Sutra' translated by Genjo in Tang.

In Japan, the statues of Juichimen Kannon were produced and worshipped eagerly since the Nara period, and the statue of Juichimen Kannon in the wall paintingof Horyu-ji Temple Kondo (法隆寺金堂) (which was damaged by a fire in 1949) seems to be the oldest work. The other works from the Nara period are the statue of Shorin-ji Temple in Nara (a national treasure, coming from Daigorin-ji Temple (Omiwa-tera Temple), which is a jingu-ji temple (a temple associated with a shrine) in Omiwa-jinja Shrine) and the statue of Kannon-ji Temple in Kyoto (a national treasure), the statue of Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara (an important cultural property) and so on. The principal image of Buddha of Nigatsu-do in Todai-ji Temple is also Juichimen Kannon, but its feature is not clear because it is a Buddhist image that has infrequently been shown to the public since ancient times. Omizutori,' an annual event of that temple, is the event for the confession of sins to Juichimen Kannon (Juichimen Keka Hoyo).

Additionally, according to folklore, Taicho, a priest of Shugen-do (an ancient Japanese religion) in the Nara Period, had practiced asceticism while praying Juichimen Kannon since childhood, opened Hakusan, which is famous as Reijo (sacred ground) and succeeded in placing (感得) Myori Gongen, which had Juichimen Kannon as its honji (substance). After the Heian period, Shuei, who learned the ways of both the Shingon and Tendai sects, moved this Myori Gongen to Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, which is one of the Sanno Shichisha (Seven Sanno Shrines) as Kyakujin Gongen (an enshrined diety to pray for the increase of customers in merchant families).

Features of the statue

Juichimen Kannon is seen as a Bosatsu that performed the pious act of removing all hardships from living things due to its deep mercy, so that many statues had been produced in figures such as that of a goddess.

Many statues of Juichimen Kannon put Kebutsu (the artificial Buddha) on the front top of the head and put faces of emotions such as Butsumen, Bosatsumen (Bodhisattva heads), Shinnumen (three angry faces), Kugejoshutsumen (plain faces with fangs) and Daishomen (a laughing face) on the head while letting the right hand hang down, and having in the left hand a vase in which there is a lotus. This is based on 'Juichimen Shinjushin-kyo Sutra,' translated by Genjo. Shinnumen is an expression of anger with the arching of the eyebrows and a downturned mouth; Kugejoshutsumen is an expression in which a canine tooth is bared between pressed lips, and Daishomen is an expression of a smile, more specifically a big grin. Usually, Butsumen is put atop the head, Bosatsumen (three faces) at the front side on the head, Shinnumen (three faces) on the left side (on the observers' right), Kugejoshutsumen (three faces) on the right side (on the observers' left) and Daishomen (one face) on the back which can not be seen from observers.

According to 'Juichimen Shinjushin-kyo Sutra,' the right hand which is hanging down has a beadroll and the left hand holds a vase with a red lotus in it. However, in the case of statue, beadroll in the right hand is often omitted or lost.

On the other hand, the statue of Juichimen Kannon as a principle image of Buddha in Hase-dera Temple (真言宗豊山派総本山長谷寺), the grand head temple of the Shingon sect Buzan-ha, has as is customary a lotus in a vase in the left hand, but it is the greatest characteristic that it has a big shakujo (pewter staff) and stands upon a rock.
The statues of Juichimen Kannon that are placed in many Buzan-ha temples show these features, and consequently they are called 'Juichimen Kannon of the Hase-dera style.'

In the pure esoterica that was transmitted by Kukai, the statues with four arms were produced based on the sutra translated by Fuku, but the statues with two arms were predominant in Japan.

Mantra (Shingon)

Vajradhatu: On Rokeijinbara Kiriku
Garbhadhatu: On Makakyaronikya Sowaka


On Daradara Jirijiri Dorodoro Ichibachi Sharei Shareiharasharei Harasharei Kusomei Kusomabarei Irimiri Shirishichi Jaramahanaya Haramashuda Sataba Makakyaronika Sowaka

Major works in Japan

In the Nara period

The statue of Shorin-ji Temple in Nara (a national treasure)

The statue of Kannon-ji Temple in Kyotanabe City, Kyoto (a national treasure)

The statue of Mie-ji Temple in Gifu (an important cultural property)

In the Heian period

The statue of Haga-ji Temple in Fukui (an important cultural property)

The statue of Kogen-ji Temple (Dogan-ji Temple) in Shiga (a national treasure)

The statue of Rakuya-ji Temple in Shiga (an important cultural property, seated statue)

The statue of Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple in Kyoto (a national treasure)

The statue of Domyo-ji Temple in Fujiidera City, Osaka (a national treasure)

The statue of Nakayama-dera Temple in Takarazuka City, Hyogo (an important cultural property)

The statue of Hokke-ji Temple in Nara (a national treasure)

The statue of Murou-ji Temple in Nara (a national treasure)

After the Kamakura period

The statue of Hoshaku-ji Temple in Kyoto (an important cultural property)

The statue of Hokongo-in Temple in Kyoto (an important cultural property, seated statue)

The statue of Hase-dera Temple in Nara (an important cultural property)


The book in Nara National Museum (a national treasure, from the Heian period)

[Original Japanese]