Aomori Showa Daibutsu
Although the Daibutsu (lit: Giant Buddha) of Nara is considered the most famous, the distinction of the tallest seated Daibutsu goes to Aomori Prefecture’s bronze Showa Daibutsu. Towering at over 70 feet and weighing 220 tons it’s approximately the height of the White House and the weight of over 100 American sized cars.
Isolated on the outskirts of Aomori City, the Showa Daibutsu gracefully overlooks the eastern part of the city. Built in 1984, it’s based on the image of the primordial Vairocana Buddha— the central figure of the Japan’s Shingon sect. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the final stage of Shingon enlightenment’s “esoteric teachings and bodily experiential practice constitute the summit of the development of the mind.” Its sitting pose represents contemplation on humanity’s salvation.
Once on the premises, visitors walk through a short forest trail to see the Daibutsu. It’s a spectacular site. Inside the base of the statue is a walk-around that contains various proverbs. Translations are provided in English so foreign tourists can enjoy the site as well.
On the way back from the statue, visitors may pass through a prayer site for the unborn. Local members of the community place small pinwheels to help lost spirits transmigrate from limbo to the afterlife.
Visitors are able to reach the site from the JR Aomori station by taking Bus Line #3 toward the Showa Daibutsu. The busses are infrequent so visitors are advised to plan their trip accordingly. Furthermore, if you plan to visit the Showa Daibutsu on the weekend you can save money by buying a one-day weekend bus pass for 500 yen.
Jared is a Silicon Valley Native and recent college grad currently exploring the Eastern Hemisphere. You can follow him on Twitter.