Every time I get a chance to visit Japan, I make the point of visiting this huge hobby shop. It occupies a massive eight story building in Akihabara, right in the center of Tokyo. I go there to see their huge plastic model corner. I slowly walk through the isles, see if any box would speak to me, and take it home. I usually manage to find something unexpected.
The other day, that model kit was a buddhism statue. First I was surprised that a kit like this existed in the first place. Then I thought, I’m not religious, but clearly these deities have been sculpted for millenia, and anything that’s been loved for such a long time by so many people must have some inherent beauty in them. The only question is if my heart is open enough to see them or not. So that became the kit that I brought back home.
I suppose I have also been interested in trying a figurine. After all, it is one of the major sub genre within the model hobby. Most figurine models are from animes and movies, and I’m not really into that stuff. I mean, what would my family think of me if I’m spending hours building a cute girl figurine. But a buddhism statue, that’s a different story.
Once assembled, the figurine fits comfortablly in my hand. It’s full of details, and it’s perfectly proportioned. In the process of building and painting it, naturally I held it and looked at it from every angle. Thick chest. Muscular thigh. The angry face that stares down. Very masculine. He just looks so good!
I researched a bit and here’s the original. It was originally sculpted in the 13th century by Unkei 運慶, who is widely considered to be one of the best.
I’m trying to express how it makes me feel in words, but no words come out, and instead I’m just shedding tears. This is like receiving an unexpected letter from 800 years ago. The time deteriorated its surface, but not its shape. I suppose this is what the mastery of the art is like. To move a person so deeply over such a long time.
If you ever get a chance, please, go build one. There are experiences you can only gain by building one, not by looking at one. This is one of those.
Not knowing what to do, I just generally followed the instructions on the leaflet for how to paint. I think it should have been a little darker. I should have done the research before I made it, not after. Luckily, Virupaska is one of four guardian deities, so there are three more to go. I just need to build another.
But really, I have a better idea. I need to paint it in more vibrant color, like a Marvel superhero. Like the ones I’ve seen in India. As my friend likes to tell me all the time, those deities are time tested super heroes.