When it comes to buddha statues, the bigger the better in my opinion. This list isn’t completely size-obsessed though as many of them are also notable for their quirkiness. Everyone knows about the famous ones in Kamakura and Nara but this post includes a compilation of alternative and unique ones so join Tokyo Fox on a journey that starts in the north of Japan and heads south taking in some of the most interesting buddha statues I’ve visited so far.
- Please note that the height for each one (if known) is given in metres and does not include pedestals
1. The Arty One (13.5 metres) – Once upon a time this buddha just sat in a field on its own but world-renowned architect Tadao Ando built a hill covered with lavender bushes around it. Only after passing through this tunnel can you finally look up to see the buddha statue in its full glory.
Hill of The Buddha, Minami-ku, Sapporo. More details here
2. The Roadside One (15 metres) – A cable car is actually on hand to take you up the final hill en-route to this one which overlooks some fine countryside scenery.
Aikoosaragi Bukkoku Temple, Aoba-Ku, Sendai. More details here
3. The Golden One – A branch of the main headquarters in Hyogo Prefecture, this one is a little difficult to find as it’s located in the middle of a very peaceful rural area.
The Great Buddha of The King of Seimei, Kazo-Shi, Saitama. More details here
4. The Tallest One (110 metres) – 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. It has no religious or historical meaning but was just built to be in the Guinness Book of Records.
Ushiku Daibutsu, Ushiku-Shi, Ibaraki. More details here
5. The Unknown One (12.5 metres) – Tucked away far from a station in the northern suburbs of Tokyo, this is the third largest bronze buddha in Japan having been erected in 1977.
Tokyo Daibutsu, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo. More details here
6. The New One (12 metres) – This copper alloy statue was built in multiple pieces 350 kilometres away in Yamagata City and then transported and assembled in the small town of Hinode. It opened in April 2018 at a cost of over 400 million yen/$3.8m.
Rokuya Daibutsu, Hinode-machi, Nishitama-Gun, Tokyo. More details here
7. The Large Stone One (31 metres) – Located on the slopes of Mount Nokogiri, this was originally built in 1873 and is the Buddha of healing.
Nihon-ji Daibutsu, Kyonan-Machi, Awa-Gun, Chiba. More details here
8. The Papier-mâché One (13.63 metres) – A Priest spent a quarter of a century working on this 13.63 metre buddha but he passed away in 1815 before it had been completed. Thirteen years later and it was finally finished.
Shōhō-ji Temple, Gifu. More details here
9. The Sunglasses One (18 metres) – Built by the father of this statue’s owner over five years in the 1950’s. The great buddha once appeared in his dad’s dreams at the age of 43 and from then he set out to build it!
Hotei-no Daibutsu, Konan-Shi, Aichi. More details here
10. The Green One (10 metres) – It’s not just the tint of green which characterises this Buddha but also the lips, eye line and ears which are an almost-comical gold colour!
Toganji Temple, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya-Shi, Aichi. More details here
Bonus: The Creepy One (1.8 metres) – This statue has been around since 1978 and took Japanese artist Yoneiji Inamura over 6 years to create. It consists of 20,000 dead insects including a variety of bugs and beetles.
Itakura, Ora-Gun, Gunma More details here
- All of the above are full bodied Buddhas but there are a few head-only ones worthy of a quick mention and they include these three in Yugawara, Ueno and Matsudo.
This list is not as complete as I’d like it to be as there are still some buddha statues that I want to visit in the likes of Niigata, Ishikawa and Kyushu. Hopefully one day I’ll get round to visiting them.
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