It is belived that Buddhism arrived in Japan by the end of 6th century A.D.through China and Korea.The advent of the faith naturally led to the introduction of Buddhist art-forms. Shakyamuni Buddha is called Shaka Butsu in Japanese.The first image of Buddha, arrived in Japan from Paekje (Korea), was of gold and copper, by Buddhist monks. The introduction of Buddhism into Japan led also to an opposition by indigenous Shintoism, but it had a great patron in the form of Prince Shotoku, an ardent believer of Buddhism who held the rank of regent during the reign of his aunt, the Empress Suiko.During this period Buddhism spread rapidly througout the country.
The Archaeological remains suggest that they were following Mahayana Buddhism and offering prayer to Shakyamuni, Bhaishajyaguru, Amitabha, and other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya. It is said that at first Buddhist images were worshipped at private homes, but later on monasteries were built. The arrival of Buddhism and Buddhist art was one of the most important, epoch-making events in the entire history of Japanese culture. It enriched the spiritual life of the people, and at the same time prompted them to adopt the highly advanced culture that had developed together with Buddhism on the Asian continent.
Icono-plastically Early Buddhist images in Japan were made on the ideals of Chinese and Korean Art, but gradualy they developed their own style.During the Fujiwara period (11th-12th centuries A.D.), the archetype of Japanese conception of beauty were developed, featuring sophisticated harmony and decorative elegance. At that time culture was dominated by the aristocrats who had grown rich from the income of their vast estates, and by the monks of the great monateries who reflected the taste of their patrons. Buddhist art was a major aspects of this culture, the construction of monasteries and images were zealously promopted by the aristocracy. One cannot fail to notice, moreover, the phenomenon of indigenization in all aspcts of Japanese culture that took place after the official interchanges with Asian countries were discontinued towards the end of 11th century A.D.Buddhist sculptures and paintings of this period absorbed less and less Chinese influence and became more and more Japanese in Spirit, Culminating in the graceful and well-proportioned style of the eleventh century which is called wa-yo, Japanese style.
The thangka or hanging scroll were also developed in Japan, which mainly produced mandala and holy images required in the practice of sadhana.In this thangka Shaka Butsu or Shakyamuni Buddha is depicted in Japanese style.
The Nagas play a leading role in the life of Lord Buddha - they bath him at birth, Muchilinda the Naga-king guards the Buddha against the fury of the elements unleased by Mara during his meditation in Bodh Gaya, the Naga-king Elapatra comes to listen to the sermon of the Buddha, and so on.The Nagas are also believed to be the protectotors of the Law of Buddha.As per one Buddhist tradition, the prajnaparamita text was put under the protection of the Nagas by Shakyamuni Buddha until such a time as the human race should have have acquired sufficient knowledge to understand it. In the second century A.D.,the sage Nagarjuna claimed to have received the prajnaparamita from the Nagas on which je founded the Mahayana School.Moreover the cult of Nagas and Serpent worship was very much popular in many parts of Indian subcontinent and Asia.Sepent worship has special place in Tantra
The Indian representations of Nagas gods from 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. were human form with cobra's hoods behind the head. After the 12th century, the Nagas were represented with the body ending in a serpent,s tail. In this painting a Naga Kanya is shown with human head and five-hoods behind her head. She has a long serpent tail. She is offering a lotus to the Buddha, symbolizing her respect and devotion towards the Buddha. Makara is also a popular and auspicious motif in Indian and Northern Buddhist art.The brocade is woven with stylized vishva vajra and stylized auspicious symbols.
This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".