Translated by Hilary Keyes
Nanzoin Temple, Fukuoka - Visit The 41m Long Reclining Buddha!
Written by miki fukumuro
The same size as New York's Statue of Liberty, the reclining Buddha of Nanzoin Temple, in Sasaguri, Fukuoka, is 11m tall, 41m long and thought to be the longest existing bronze Buddha statue in the world. Let's learn more about this marvel!
Today let's visit an area just a short distance from downtown Fukuoka, Sasaguri, Kasuyagun, Fukuoka prefecture.
In Sasaguri you will find the 180 year old Sasaguri Hachiju Hachikasho, a course of 88 temples and Buddhist sites that, if you make a pilgrimage and pray at each spot, are said to help you repent for past sins and to help your prayer to come true.
This area has recently become a popular place for tourists, as you can enjoy both traditional Japanese culture and breathe in the fresh air from the mountains here as well.
Today, we will pay a visit to one of the 88 sacred sites, the home of the world's longest bronze statue of the Buddha, Nanzoin Temple.
Melody Bridge - It Plays Japanese Songs!
This Melody Bridge will appear before you as you alight at Kido-Nanzouin-mae Station, which is the closest station to Nanzoin Temple.
Both the left and right sides of the bridge play acoustic versions of regional Japanese children's songs (Medaka no Gakkou and Furusato), which makes this both a charming and somewhat nostalgic spot for many Japanese visitors heading to Nanzoin Temple. You'll often hear visitors here humming or even singing along with the melodies.
Let's Head into Nanzoin Temple!
As you walk a little further from the entrance, you will see a staircase leading to the main hall. If you go past the stairway of the main hall and go further along, you will see a statue of Fudoumyouou (Acalanatha), and the Okunoin, or inner sanctuary.
Fudoumyouou is a fierce Buddhist deity said to protect worshipers from disasters or harm.
In the autumn the trees behind the Fudo Statue turn a vivid red, which makes this an amazing and dynamic photo spot. You will find a number of visitors at this time stopping and taking a break on the benches to gaze at the sight of the maple leaves and this statue.
Next to the Okunoin, you will also find a cave with an Immovable Waterfall. While standing under this waterfall, it is said that an ama (female priest) prayed for people's happiness. This area is one where many people feel that the atmosphere of Nanzoin Temple changes.
Same Size as the Statue of Liberty - Shakanehanzou
The main sight at Nanzoin Temple is of course, Shakanehanzou, or the Death of Buddha statue. It is the world's largest bronze statue of the Shakyamuni as he reclines and passes towards Nirvana; this statue is 41 meters long, 11 meters tall, and weighs roughly 300 tons.
With a size that surprises even the most stoic of visitors, this depiction of the Buddha is the same size as New York's famed Statue of Liberty.
While it is fun to stand next to the statue to really absorb the sheer size of it, it's also good to take in the total view of the Buddha from afar as well. You can clearly see the face of the Buddha from a distance on sunny days.
See these cords, tied to the hand of the Buddha statue?
This string is connected to where worshipers come to offer prayers, and enables those that tug on the strings to "shake hands" with the Buddha.
According to believers, through these cords you will receive the power of the Buddha. Many people pray while holding the strings.
There are five strings in total that make up this cord. There are five colors that make up this cord; it is said that, upon the death of the Buddha, he was able to see five colors of light while he was becoming enlightened.
When you visit Nanzoin Temple, make sure to take up these strings and offer a prayer yourself.
The Sole of Buddha's Foot and Behind the Statue
If you walk around the statue, you will notice that there is a design on the sole of the Buddha's foot. The Bussoku, or Buddha's Foot, was the subject of prayer in early Indian Buddhism. This design carries the precious teachings and merciful heart of the Buddha.
You can also walk around and see the other side of the Buddha too. Being able to worship the Buddha from any side, all the while appreciating the amazing size of the statue itself is incredible.
Visit Nanzoin Temple
41 meters long, 11 meters tall, 300 tons. The statue of the Buddha at Nanzoin Temple is the most impressive sight you can see at this temple, but not the only one that it has to offer.
You can also learn more about Japanese culture and belief at Nanzoin, via the Shichifukujin Tunnel, where the Seven Gods of Good Fortune may grant your wishes, and take a break and enjoy some tea and sweets at the Daikoku Tea Shop within the precincts too.
When planning your trip to Fukuoka, make sure to take some time out of the city to visit this stunning temple too!
Sasaguri Shikoku Soumoto Temple Nanzouin Temple
Address: Fukuoka, Kasuya, Sasaguri 1035
Hours: 24 hours a day; shop/reception open 9:00-17:00
Other Languages: English
Nearest Station: Kido-Nanzoin-mae Station, JR Fukuhoku Yutaka Line
Access: 35 minutes from JR Hakata Station by Fukuhoku Yutaka Line (Line 8), then 3 minutes walk from Kido-Nanzoin-mae Station
Website: Nanzoin Temple (Japanese)