Hand-copying Buddhist scriptures inside Ushiku Daibutsu - The tallest Buddha statue in Japan
When talking about Ibaraki, people would immediately think of Hitachi Seaside Park, where there are hundreds of flowers blooming all year round. However, it seems that very few people know about Ushiku Daibutsu, a construction that is great not only in size but also in the spiritual sense.
Some information about Ushiku Daibutsu
Meaning of the name: The Grant Buddha statue (Daibutsu) of Ushiku city
Constructed in: 1993
Height: 120m (including a 10-meter statue and a 10-meter lotus) - 3 times taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Record: The world's tallest Buddha Statue from 1993-2008, recognized as 1 of the 5 tallest statues in the world in 2018.
Visiting Ushiku Daibutsu
Ushiku Daibutsu is not only a Buddha statue but also a large park with a landscape built in harmony with nature. Upon coming here, you can enjoy the peaceful and quiet atmosphere that is totally different from the noisy one in places with too many tourists.
I came to Ushiku Daibutsu on an early autumn day, so the weather was beautiful. The sky was high and blue, and the sun was perfect for taking pictures (:smile:). I felt that I was quite lucky and this place was meant for me, since I heard that one day before I arrived, Ibaraki had been suffering from a huge storm for several days.
There are 2 types of tickets for you to choose from: excluding or including visiting the inside of the Buddha statue. Feel free to choose whichever one is suitable for you.
Visiting the inside of the Buddha statue
Before getting inside, you will receive a plastic bag which you will put your shoes in and carry with you while visiting.
The inside of the Buddha statue is considered a major museum which is divided into 5 levels, including:
- Level 1: World of light
To help the visitors feel the light on this level, after the main door closes, all lights will be turned off. In the dark, you will listen to the melodious music while following the guidance of the only light shining from the ceiling.
- Level 2: World of Gratitude and Thankfulness
The tranquil space is for chanting sutras. This is the place where I experienced copying Buddhist scriptures with a brush.
- Level 3: World of the Lotus Sanctuary
This level is surrounded by walls with Buddha statues of different sizes. These statues are placed in wooden frames with the names of individuals/families who had contributed merit to this construction.
- Level 4 & 5: Room of Mt. Grdhrakuta
The space here is modelled after Mount Grdhrakuta - where the Buddha stayed for 7 years and preached Buddhism.
There is a lift taking you to the observatory on level 5 (with a height of 85m, equivalent to the chest of the statue). From here, you can see the entire vast space of the park. If the weather is beautiful, you might be lucky enough to see Mount Fuji and the TV tower Tokyo Skytree.
Let me tell you, on the day I visited the statue, the weather was quite nice, so I tried and actually saw the TV tower.
Experience hand-copying Buddhist scriptures with a brush
On level 2, I got to copy Buddhist scriptures in Chinese characters for the first time in my life. You can experience this activity for just 200 yen (about 2USD).
Don't worry if you don't know Japanese, because when you place the hand-out paper on a table with the lamp, the faded characters will appear very clearly. Then, all you need to do is writing on the pre-printed characters.
After you finish your text, if you don't want to bring it back, you can leave it in the box so that the monks can chant it for you daily.
Come here at least once in your life!
Usually, when talking about museums or Buddhism, most young people would feel boring. However, from what I saw, not only aged visitors but also children or young people come here to visit, enjoy the atmosphere and get engaged in activities. Come here and experience them all for yourself.
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