Meet Japan’s 5 Fierce Buddhas

Fierce buddhas in Japan are highly revered and respected by the Japanese people.

However, normally, when we talk about buddha, we always have the image of someone who is very peaceful and wise. Wisdom also applies to these fierce buddhas, however, they don’t have an image of many friends. On the contrary, they always seem very nervous and ready to set someone on fire.


But, we cannot say that they are bad, but that they are different and with other missions.

Thus, they must protect those who are followers of Buddhism and ward off evil.


Find out more about Japan’s fierce buddhas and how they can help you here.

The 5 Fierce Buddhas of Japan

The Myō-ō (明王) are warrior and wrathful deities who represent the power of Buddhism to overcome the passions.


Furthermore, five of the Myō-ō are emanations of the Five Wisdom Buddhas.

Introduced to Japan in the 9th century by the Japanese Shingon and Tendai sects of Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō 密教), the Myō-ō were originally Hindu deities who were later adopted into the pantheon of Esoteric Buddhism to overcome blind desire.

In this way, the teachings of Esoteric Buddhism are mystical and difficult to understand, and require a high level of devotion and austerity to master.


Elaborate and secret ritual practices (using mantras, mudras and mandalas) are used to help develop and realize the Buddha’s eternal wisdom. This form of Buddhism is not taught to the general public, but is mostly confined to Buddhist believers, priests and those on the path of enlightenment.

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Japan’s Fierce Buddhas Protect You

The images of the Myō-ō are fierce and menacing, as their menacing postures and facial expressions are designed to subdue evil spirits and convert disbelievers.

They are often depicted engulfed in flames, which according to Buddhist tradition, represents the purification of the mind by burning away all material desires or consuming all passions.

Furthermore, they carry cruel weapons to protect believers and subdue evil.

Among Myō-ō sculptures, the Godai Myō-ō (the grouping called the “Five Great Kings”) is the most prevalent; among the individual Myō-ō, the most widely revered in Japan is Fudō (literally immovable, firm). This group of five serves the Nyorai. Another group of eight serves the Bosatsu and is called the Hachidai Myō-ō 八大明王. For more details on the eight, see the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with username=guest).

Fudō Myoo is also the main figure invoked in the fire ritual, or gum, a central element of Shingon, which is performed to destroy negative energies and bring benefits to individuals, the realm and all sentient beings. Gum is often practiced in Buddhist temples even today.

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