I had pretty much forgotten about this place until I heard it mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the ‘Factoids’ segment on Steve Wright’s BBC Radio 2 show. Listeners were told that the three tallest statues are all Buddha ones; Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China (128m), the Lakyun Setkvar in Monywa, Myanmar (116m) and the Ushiku Daibutsu (110m) here in Japan.
Way back in July 2004 (the 13th to be exact!) when I was living in Matsudo City the possibility of going to Ushiku in Ibaraki was quite an easy one as it was just a straightforward journey along the Joban line (local line) for about 40 minutes. Well it wasn’t quite that easy as my friend Peter and I then had to catch a bus to the giant buddha which looms large over the city standing tall at an impressive 120m.
Despite its record-breaking height its relatively unknown to many Japanese people outside of this area and not wanting to visit it again I thought it would be nice to include it in the latest part of the TF Flashback series which is in no way a sign that we have nothing else to write about on here!! So here’s another round of scanned pictures to show you how impressive this sight is. Due to its proximity to Tokyo it can also double up and become part of the Tokyo Daytripper series on this site.
Now, eagle-eyed readers may have noted that the buddha has suddenly increased 10 metres in height but that is not so as it stands on a 10 metre base and I have always thought that it was 120 metres tall. The gently smiling Buddha with the upward facing right palm and downward facing left palm is three times taller than the Statue of Liberty and was completed in 1993. In fact those very hands which I’ve just mentioned are eighteen metres long and while I’m at it you may as well know that each ear is ten metres and its mouth is four metres.
As far as I know, the buddha has no religious or historical meaning but was just built to be in the Guinness Book of Records. There were very few people around when we went so it was nice to have the place pretty much to ourselves. To my memory, we bought the 800 yen tickets which allowed us to take a lift up to an observation platform (once we’d taken our shoes off in typical Japanese fashion) in its chest area (around the 85 metre mark) for views of countryside stretching for miles and miles which is maybe interesting for people who live in the megalopolis of Tokyo city but for us it was (back then) fairly normal viewing when we were in the UK. For the record, it costs just 500 yen to get into the grounds to see the buddha statue only. I should also add that there was some kind of zoo in the vicinity as well as a children’s play area and there is also a museum inside the buddha detailing how and when the statue was built.
How to get there: Take the JR Joban Line to Ushiku which is about 45 minutes away from Ueno. Take the east exit and go to Bus stop #1 where the bus to Ushiku-joen should take about 30 minutes. Be aware that out in these parts buses are not so frequent. The cost is 500-600 yen.
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