Momoka Miyoshi Sculpts Buddhist Guardians on Their Day Off

The Nio (Benevolent Kings) are wrathful and muscular guardians that stand outside Buddhist temples across Japan and other parts of East-Asia warding off evil spirits with their fierce and intimidating expressions. But that’s only when they’re on duty. When they’re not working, the guardians must certainly have ways to wind down, take the edge off and relax those muscles, right? That was essentially the idea that led artist Miyoshi Momoka to create a series of terracotta sculptures.

“Day Off” (2020) by Momoka Miyoshi | photos courtesy the artist

Miyoshi began working on her series of playful sculptures while studying art at Tokyo University of the Arts. “Day Off,” which features a joyful Nio codling what appears to be a grandchild and flanked by his two guardian dogs, would go on to become the artist’s graduating thesis work.

“Day Off” (2020) by Momoka Miyoshi | photos courtesy the artist



“Day Off” (2020) by Momoka Miyoshi | photos courtesy the artist

“Day Off” (2020) by Momoka Miyoshi | photos courtesy the artist


“Segway Nio” (2022) by Momoka Miyoshi | photos courtesy the artist

Miyoshi would go on to obtain her MFA from the same university and continued to perfect her guardians. One of her latest pieces is called “Segway Nio” and features an elated guardian riding on a Segway scooter. If you’re in Tokyo right now, the piece is on display at N11 Gallery in Nihonbashi through July 18, 2022.

“Segway Nio” (installation view at Nihonbashi N11 Gallery) | photo by @a8anave

“Segway Nio” (installation view at Nihonbashi N11 Gallery) | photo courtesy the artist

“Segway Nio” (installation view at Nihonbashi N11 Gallery) | photo courtesy the artist


In addition to her lifesize sculptures, the artist has also been working on miniatures that feature small guardians watching movies and playing with their dogs.



4 Comments

  1. Are the miniature statures available for sale in US.

    Thank you
    Frank Wolff

  2. I love these SO MUCH!

  3. I think these are wonderful!!

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