Ushiku Daibutsu (Buddha)
The tallest standing Buddha statue in Japan is hiding more than a few secrets.
You won’t be able to feel the power of the Ushiku Daibutsu (Buddha) through photos alone, so take a trip out to Ibaraki Prefecture to experience it for yourself. The Ushiku Buddha is an impressive sight, not to mention the third tallest statue in the world. Above all, it is an immersive experience where you can even go inside this multi-story Amida Buddha.
Jutting gracefully into the horizon line, the Buddha is a haunting silhouette that can be spotted from the nearby expressway. Three times the size of the Statue of Liberty, the Buddha at its base is 120 meters high, representing the 12 beams of light that are said to come from the Amida’s body reaching throughout the world. The positioning of the hands signifies his acceptance of all sentient beings, and just one hand is nearly 50-feet tall so he can accept a lot.
Inside the Ushiku Buddha
You’ll be guided through a mini-spiritual awakening and bare witness to its peculiar beauty once inside. From the entrance, you will walk from pitch-black darkness to the mysterious “World of Infinite Light and Life” room, which features mesmerizing lit-up Buddhas.
From there, you can view photos and the history of the statue. You also get a better perspective of just how large it is thanks to a replica of the Buddha’s 8-foot toe (about 2.5 meters).
The most somber sight is the “World of Lotus Sanctuary.” More than 3,400 small golden Buddha statues line the walls. The small statues, called tainaibutsu (a Buddha inside a bigger Buddha), are memorials acting as graves purchased by the deceased’s families.
On the 4th and 5th floors is the lookout area called the “Room of Mt. Grdhrakuta,” which allows you to see out of thin windows built into the statue’s chest. On a clear day, you can even see Tokyo Skytree in the distance. There is a sitting area, as well as a gift shop inside, too.
Outside the Buddha: An unbeatable sight
On your way out, don’t forget to visit the veranda. You’ll find a 4,000-ton buddha standing upon a blooming lotus flower. The view of the Jodo Teien garden is magnificent. Various flowers and plants in bloom depending on the season. In springtime, cherry blossoms completely elevate the experience.
Although it is just about 90-minutes outside of Tokyo, it’s not really in a tourist-friendly area. Perhaps that’s why most tourists and even Japanese residents have not visited. Its remoteness may contribute to its seclusion, especially when compared to more popular daibutsu statues such as those in Nara, Kamakura, or at the Nanzo-in Temple in Fukuoka.
Hopefully, more tourists can learn about the statue and visit. The Ushiku Daibutsu should be a priority sightseeing stop for those seeking a spiritual and unearthly experience.