The city of Nasu up in Tochigi prefecture seemed to me like it was basically just one long road, known simply as Nasu-kaido Street, with a load of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and museums off to the side of it. However, take one of the side roads off of it and there are a couple of unique, interesting and slightly quirky b-grade sights which are missed by the majority of visitors to the area.
Once I was done at Nasu War Museum I walked for about 50 minutes to get to Nasu Miroku Daikannon; a large 23 metre high pale mint green kannon statue made of copper. The pedestal beneath it is about three metres thus taking its height beyond 25 metres in total.
There are a few other religious institutions in Nasu and this particular one was built in this place by religious corporation Miracle Love because it is……wait for it…… “the land of geothermal energy for purification of the evil of mankind.” Nope, I’ve not got a clue either!
All in all, it’s a bit of a strange place as there really is very little in the area closely surrounding the statue. The office to the left of it is comparatively new and the main hall within seems to have nothing in it. Beyond that building is another brown statue but I’m struggling to guess what it’s supposed to be. A tortoise or turtle maybe?!
I think there is a bathhouse nearby and just a short distance further north when back on the side road brought me to my next sight but not before looking back to see the kannon statue poking out of the wooded area.
Just five minutes away on foot leads to a torii gate and when you see such a thing at an entrance it usually means it’s a shrine and therefore free. However, that’s not always the case and Shin Meidaijingu Shrine was one such example. I thought it would probably just be a few hundred yen to enter as it’s not a famous place. Imagine my horror then when the young girl at the ticket office said it was 1000 yen to enter. I exclaimed in shock but what can you do eh! I could’ve been stubborn, refused to pay such a ridiculous amount and walked away but in the grand scheme of things 1000 yen is not much.
It’s by far the most expensive temple I’ve seen. I could probably understand if it was for an overly popular one in Kyoto or somewhere as a way of controlling the number of visitors a bit better. This gigantic golden god statue though is hidden away in Nasu and located a 20 minute walk away from the main street!
Go round the back of the statue and it’s possible to go inside where a lift goes up to a couple of floors. One displays some exhibits and the other is a video room with an outer door taking you to an altar and next to that is a small staircase that goes up to the top of that rock-face behind the golden figure.
The head of the aforementioned statue nearby could just about be seen but far more impressive were the mountains lying in the distance of the dense green vegetation.
The main road through Nasu offers many delights for visitors but stray from that for a bit and there are some nice photographic spots with hardly a tourist in sight.
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: The Only War Museum In Japan?’