Just when I thought I’d seen about every possible variation of buddha in Japan, I came across this one. Whilst others have come in a variety of colours, materials, sizes and positions (standing, sitting, reclining…) nothing compares to this statue which is located just over an hour north of Tokyo.
Travel north from Ikebukuro to Kurihashi, transfer to the Tobu Nikko Line and a few stops later is the not-so-snappily-named Itakuratoyodai-Mae Station which isn’t too far beyond the Saitama border in Gunma Prefecture. For the record, it’s a far easier trip from Kita Senju Station in eastern Tokyo but it would’ve taken me longer to get to that starting point.
Buses travel west between Itakuratoyodai-Mae and Tatebayashi stations (200 yen per ride) but my first stop was just 13 minutes away and it dropped me off right next to it at the City district office. With only one bus per hour, it’s a good idea to time any arrival at the station with the bus departure.
This place is far from being any tourist sight as it’s just a regular community centre with people working there in offices and groups of people having meetings. There seemed very few people around when I was there though and what I’d came to see was in an enclosed black cabinet display case amidst some pottery work and paintings.
Look inside and a 1.8 metre tall buddha statue can be seen and at first glance it seems like it’s composed of gems and jewels. Take a closer peek and it soon becomes apparent that this buddha consists of something far different from the norm for such statues!
This has to be the creepiest buddha sculpture as it consists of 20,000 dead insects including a variety of bugs and beetles (rhinoceros beetles, winged jewel beetles, drone beetles, longhorn beetles etc) with particular ones used for the eyes and vital parts.
The statue has been around since 1978 and took Japanese artist Yoneiji Inamura over 6 years to create. He actually made a few sculptures from insects but this proved to be his most successful piece and the largest one he ever made.
Inamura created the statue using such “natural materials” and donated it to the city. The story goes that there was very little for children to do in post-WWII Japan other than catching bugs which would inevitably die. By making this statue from their dead bodies he hoped that their souls could rest in peace and very few things are as peaceful as a Buddha.
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