We went to see the Great Buddha at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakara.
In front of the Buddha is a great, bronze incense burner. One of the first things I noticed on it were the doors to its interior.
Centuries of hands and fingers have rubbed and worn the surface of the metal.
People place bundles of incense sticks inside. Some wave their hands to surround themselves with the scented smoke.
I looked some more at the burner and near the base, saw a ring small high-relief designs inside recessed panels. The designs were animals, beautifully executed…they were the Chinese zodiacal years. I got down on my knees and traveled around the burner, taking a photograph of each panel as I went. Then I did it again, with flash, to insure that at least one image of each panel would be a decent exposure.
The names of the years in the cycle are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Let’s look at them, one at a time.