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Inheritance of Prayer

Restoration of Five Hundred Buddhist Statues

Two projects to share the work of Takeshi Nagai in the restoration of Five Hundred Buddhist Statues.

Documentary Photography by Michiko Chiyoda

Documentary videography on interviews with Takeshi Nagai by Mizuki Matsuyama

Lecture by Takeshi Nagai

Publication of Five Hundred Buddhist Statue, a photo book on the exhibition publish by Michiko Chiyoda 

The intimacy between the restorer and the Five Hundred Arhats

The statues which were sculpted by Shoun Genkei, a Buddhist monk,

date back to 400 years ago in Edo period.

Their unique beauty tells the history.

The restoration is a response to the wishes of those who wants to pass them down to the next generations.

Chiyoda and Matsuyama were struck by his work and came to document the process.

    April 8-October 10, 2022

December 25, 2021

December 21-26, 2021

December 20, 2021

December 1, 2021

Crowdfunding project 

November 22, 2021       Website established



Takeshi Nagai

Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduated School of Fine Arts (Conservation Techniques and Sculpture).

After his post-graduate researching position, and a part-time assistant position, he took a part in establishing Tokyo Cultural Property Restoration Institute Co.

He settled as the founder of Conservation and Restoration of Ancient Cultural Properties in 1992 to the present day.

Over 300 restoration projects including the country’s designated cultural properties.

Starting with the restoration of the Fugen Bosatsu statue in the collection of Meguro Gohyakurakan Temple in 2002, he restored 40 of those within the past 20 years. 


The Buddhist statues we see today in temples and museums have actually undergone several repairs in the past.

The restoration is highly driven by Buddhist faith and their wish to pass them down to the coming generations.

Buddhist statues are made of various materials, and all of them are destined to be damaged over time.

Respect and honor for the sculptors are the core of my restorations.

I only hope to preserve and to prolong the greatness and the beauty of Genkei’s work through my work.



Michiko Chiyoda

A decade as a graphic designer post at art college was followed by another career at an optical device manufacturer which also manufactures camera lenses I was responsible to advertise for.

Involvement with photography at work revived her life as a photographer .

Participation in both solo or group, domestic or international shows and events.

Her work has been recognize, awarded, published, and added to collections at a museum and a foundation internationally.

Her motto is to make contribution to the society through her photography by raising awareness of and to document disappearing beauty of Japan to be shared.

Mesmerized and inspired by the overwhelming presence and the beauty of the statues with traces of time waiting to be restored by the passionate restorer, my documentation on the restoration started.


Mizuki Matsuyama

This self-taught freelance photographer from

Fukushima originally started  as a family portrait photographer.

After 311, He left Hukushima to join an optical device manufacturer and is currently in charge of technical marketing and technical evaluation.

In addition to photography, he is currently involved in a movie production.


I went to Kiso where the Hinoki cypress used for the restoration has been carefully nurtured for centuries.

When I stood in front of the 300-year-old Hinoki, I was able to feel the hope of the lumberjacks who has left the trees in the hands of the successors. The same hope we entrust in our artwork.



"Restoration of Five Hundred Arhats: Inheritance of Prayer"  Exhibition held at Tenonsan Five Hundred Arhats Temple

Period: April 8th (Fri.) - Oct 10th (Mon.), 2022, 9AM-5PM

           (Admission until 4:30PM )
Place of the exhibition:

           Gohyarakuan-ji Temple, Mt.
           20-11, Shimo-Meguro 3-chome, Meguro-ku,

           Tokyo 153-0064, Japan 
           TEL: 03-3792-6751 
Michiko Chiyoda Photography

Mizuki Matsuyama: Video works 
Co-organizers: Tenonsan 500 Arhats Temple, Idea Works . P


Online Conversation on "Five Hundred Arhats and Restoration" Held 


In conjunction with the exhibition at the temple, we held an online dialogue between Nagai and Kenshin Hori, the steward and curator of the temple. 


Michiko Chiyoda's Photo Book "Restoration of Five Hundred Arhats: Inheritance of Prayer" Now on Sale

The Buddhist statues we see today in temples and museums have actually undergone several restorations in the past.

When I heard Takeshi Nagai's words, I learned once again that Buddhist statues are inherited by human hands, or to put it another way, if they were not restored, they would be gone.

I have grown wanting to inform as many people as possible about the restorations through my book. In the book, Takeshi Nagai, the restorer, explains about the restoration, Kenshin Hori, a monk curator from the temple, introduces the temple and the arhat statues, and Osamu Ueno, a photo critic, contributes by making commentary on my work.

祈りの継承 写真集外観

A4 size (H280 x W200)

Cover, endpapers, 100 pages of text

Digital printing (4C)

Wireless PUR binding with a sleeve case.

Price 4,000 yen (tax included)


 Ribonsha/ Amazon

Publication Date December 20, 2021

Author Michiko Chiyoda

Publisher Chieko Yoshino

Photographs by Michiko Chiyoda

Editing Chieko Yoshino

Design by Satsuki Ishiyama

Publisher Ribonsha

Printing and bookbinding Nissha Printing Communications Co.

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Video of the lecture "Restoration of the Five Hundred Arhats: Inheritance of Prayer (JP)

The lecture "Restoration of the Five Hundred Arhats: Inheritance of Prayer" held on Saturday, December 25, is now available.


Shunputei Benbashi New Rakugo "The Next Arhat, Please

Takeshi Nagai Restoration of Arhat statues

Takeshi Nagai and Kenshin Hori in dialogue (Moderator: Michiko Chiyoda)


Interview Movie

"Talking about the Restoration of the Five Hundred Arhats Statue" (JP)

A long interview with Takeshi Nagai, a Buddhist statue restorer, and Kenshin Hori, a steward and curator of the temple, both of whom are involved in the restoration of arhat statues, discussing their thoughts on the restoration process.


Promotion Movie (EN)