Move over Kamakura buddha as there’s now a bigger rival in this region and it’s actually in Tokyo! However, I don’t think Kamakura will have to worry too much about potential visitors flocking to see this relatively new buddha statue as it’s still located about 90 minutes away from Shinjuku in rural western Tokyo.
This copper alloy one has only been open to the public since April this year and has become quite the talking point in the town of Hinode! It was five years in the making and built at great cost (over 400 million yen/$3.8m) in the hope of attracting tourists to this part of the capital city as well as spreading awareness of Buddhism and attracting new worshippers.
The Great Buddha at Todaiji Temple in Nara (15 metres) still remains the largest of its kind in Japan and this new one, called Rokuya Daibutsu, is now the second biggest one which gets me thinking why they didn’t just make it a bit bigger to be the number one. That would surely be a better way of bringing attention to it as happened with the Ushiku Daibutsu which was built to be the world’s tallest buddha statue.
Once I was done at the pie ramen restaurant I continued on further west to Musashi Masuko Station on the JR Itsukaichi Line. From the station it was a 30 minute walk up to Hokoji Temple in sweltering heat and along the way a very young girl passed by me but not before bowing and welcoming me to the area. A lovely moment but of course not something I deserved in any way! On the home straight, a sign for it finally appeared and then I arrived at the temple which I walked through to get to the statue. However, if you continue for a few more metres up the road then you’ll get to a car park for the buddha which is a far easier (but not as interesting) way of getting to the giant statue.
Many buddhas have featured on Tokyo Fox over the years and when I heard about this new one I was keen to visit it. Rokuya Daibutsu, named after the mountain behind Hokoji Temple, is 12 metres tall and sits atop a three metre tall pedestal. By contrast the Great Buddha of Kamakura stands (or rather it sits!) at 11 metres in height.
Interestingly, it was built in multiple pieces 350 kilometres away in Yamagata City and then transported and assembled in the small town of Hinode which has a population of just 17,000 people! It seems that the area is more popular than I thought and people do descend on the area to see the Autumn leaves as well as for hiking. There wasn’t a soul in sight when I was there but there must be some foreign visitors incoming now as I picked up an English language pamphlet/map of the area. Proof that they are keen to let the big buddha draw people into the town and learn more about it’s comfortable and relaxing environment.
It’s a pleasant ten minute winding walk through forest up to the buddha and then there’s actually not that much other than the buddha and the countryside views. I must’ve spent less than five minutes there so a real case of the journey being all part of the fun and experience.
Rokuya Daibutsu is located at 3392 Hirai, Hinode-machi, Nishitama District, Tokyo.
Click here to read ‘Japan’s 3rd Largest Buddha Statue Is Actually In Tokyo!’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Ushiku Daibutsu (2004)’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Nokogiri-Yama Mountain In Chiba’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Ofunakannon-ji Temple’