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Home » NIPPON WONDERS » Hidden Gems » Fukuoka’s hidden gem: The breathtaking reclining Buddha of Nanzo-in temple

Fukuoka’s hidden gem: The breathtaking reclining Buddha of Nanzo-in temple

Hello, fellow travelers! We are excited to share our recent adventure in Japan with you all. Let’s dive into the captivating world of Nanzo-in Temple in Fukuoka. Did you know, this temple proudly shelters the largest bronze statue on Earth? Imagine a reclining Buddha stretching 41 meters long, standing 11 meters tall, and weighing a whopping 300 tons. It makes the famed Buddha statues of Nara and Kamakura seem pint-sized! It truly left us in awe!

Reclining Buddha

A journey through centuries: Nanzo-in’s enduring legacy

Nanzo-in Temple boasts an impressive legacy spanning over 1,200 years, establishing its place as one of Fukuoka’s oldest and most venerated temples. Its origins trace back to the Heian period (794-1185) and were attributed to a Buddhist monk named Ninshō, a pivotal figure in propagating Buddhism in Kyushu.

Despite enduring reconstructions due to natural calamities and conflicts over the centuries, Nanzo-in’s core and spiritual essence have always endured. During the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the temple expanded, adorning itself with splendid gardens and statues.

Originally nestled in Mount Koya, the heart of Shingon Buddhism, a crisis arose in 1886 when local authorities threatened the temple’s destruction. Thanks to a collective effort, led by Priest Hayashi Satoshiun, the temple found its new home in Sasaguri in 1899.

The great attraction: Reclining Buddha’s splendor

An absolute highlight of Nanzo-in Temple is its breathtaking reclining Buddha statue. Reverently known as the “Shaka Nyorai Buddha in his Last Agony,” this majestic masterpiece stands as one of Japan’s most substantial Buddha sculptures. Believed to be crafted by the renowned Buddhist artist Unkei during the 12th century.

At around 41 meters in length, the reclining Buddha rests on a hill adjacent to the temple. It presents an awe-inspiring depiction of Buddha’s peaceful countenance during his final moments before attaining nirvana. The hollow statue holds a secret – visitors can step inside through a discreet side entrance, following a passage leading to the statue’s head. There, a small window opens to panoramic views of the serene surroundings.

Reclining Buddha

Throughout the past year, I’ve delved into the world of Buddhist sculptures, and it’s fascinating to discover that the significance of the Nanzo-in Temple’s reclining Buddha goes beyond its impressive size. In Japan, sitting Buddha statues are more prevalent, symbolizing Buddha in a meditative state.

However, the reclining pose, like the one at Nanzo-in, holds a special rarity in Japan, representing Buddha on the verge of entering Nirvana. Interestingly, reclining Buddhas are more commonly found in Southeast Asia, adding a unique cultural touch to this impressive temple.

A mystical tie to fortune and fate

Beyond the reclining Buddha, Nanzo-in Temple offers a plethora of attractions, including an imposing statue of Fudo Myo-o, the deity of fire, 500 Buddha disciples’ statues, an Inari shrine devoted to rice and foxes, and another shrine dedicated to the Shichifukujin, the seven gods of fortune.

The temple is whispered to have a magical connection to luck and lottery, with tales of the head priest’s numerous wins after placing his ticket beside Daikoku, the deity of prosperity.

The Sasaguri pilgrimage trail

Nanzo-in holds a prominent role among the 33 temples comprising the Sasaguri Pilgrimage Trail. This 44-kilometer route weaves through Fukuoka Prefecture’s Sasaguri and Tobata areas, providing a condensed pilgrimage journey ideal for those desiring the experience of the renowned Shikoku Trail without its full length.

For those seeking a pilgrimage experience that captures the essence of devotion and reflection without committing to the extensive Shikoku Trail, the Sasaguri Pilgrimage Trail stands as a fulfilling and accessible alternative. Whether you’re a seasoned pilgrim or a curious traveler, this trail offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with Japan’s spiritual heritage and find solace amidst its natural wonders.

How to get to Nanzo-in

Starting from Fukuoka Hakata Station, take the JR Sasaguri Line to Kido Nanzoin-mae Station. A mere 3-minute stroll will lead you to Nanzo-in. Enrich your journey by crossing the melodic bridge, creating music with every step on the xylophone.😉

Ready to witness the grandeur of the world’s largest reclining Buddha? Your adventure awaits!

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