Important Cultural PropertyMt Sumeru stone

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  • Stone construction
  • (A) H 100.0, perimeter 424.2-454.5, aperture D 106.1, Depth 42.4. (B) H 72.7, perimeter 363.6-424.2, lower part 84.8, upper part 100.0. (C) H 63.6, aperture D 69.7, Depth 15.1.
  • Asuka period/6-7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • C-549, C-550, C-551

This is a stone object in the shape of a mountain, which was excavated in the Meiji period. It is called Shumisen (the name of the central mountain in Buddhist cosmology), because of the shape and the mountain relieved on the surface. According to the Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan), Shumisen images were built on a dry riverbed to the east of Amakashi no Oka and in a place to the west of Asukadera Temple during the Saimei period (655 – 661) to entertain people from Ezo (the current Hokkaido) and the southern part of Japan. These Shumisen images might have resembled this one. Although currently, it has a three-tiered structure, some stones seem to have been placed between the middle and bottom tiers. Each tier is hollowed out, in which water was stored. The stored water flows out of four small holes made on the four sides. It was used as a fountain in a garden and gutters and stone pavement have been excavated from the surrounding area.