There was a time a couple of years back when it seemed like I was posting about an interesting buddha statue quite regularly. That even led to a TF Top 10……alternative big Buddha statues in Japan post during the slightly lean lockdown months last year when content was a little sparse! This one will just have to wait till the follow-up list!!
Back in the very early days of January, I headed on up to Gunma Prefecture to check this one out. From Ikebukuro, the Shonan-Shinjuku line goes up to Takasaki Station. Transfer there to the Jōshin Line and about half an hour later (eleven stops) is Jōshū-Fukushima Station. That was far from the end of it though as I then had to walk south for an hour!
The destination was Chogonji (1926 Obata, Kanra-Gun, Gunma) which from the outside looks just like your average countryside temple but go round the back and up the path for a couple of minutes and you will be rewarded for your fairly minimal efforts.
At the top of the steps is a huge 10 metre-high Buddha face carved into a natural rock surface which itself is only about 15 metres in height.
This creation began in 1978 and took six years to finish. It was not the work of a famous designer though as it was actually completed by an amateur.
As it is open to the elements it has supposedly weathered a fair bit but I thought it was in pretty good condition and looked awe-inspiring. What was just as impressive though was that were no other people anywhere near this area!
This is a Buddha face statue like no other (in my experience!) and in terms of being carved into a cliff-face I can only really compare it to Soma Hyakkushaku Kannon in Fukushima Prefecture which is a 27 metre-high statue (more of an earth-dug carving!) that was never completed due to its creator dying 33 years into the project.
Thankfully, this one did get finished and is still around and in good condition for a few people to see. It certainly deserves to be seen by a lot more people though!
Click here to read ‘The Lost World Ruins Of A Stone Quarry In Gunma’
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Click here to read ‘A Shrine Dedicated To Feet & The Last Remnant Of A Former Haunted House In Gunma’
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