7_the Great Buddha of Akata

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7. The Great Buddha of Akata (Chokoku-ji Temple)

location: Akata Yurihonjo – 30 minutes from Honjo railway station by car

Chokoku-ji Temple was founded by Zesantaigaku Bonze in 1775.
The 11 Faces Kannon, better known as the Great Buddha of Akata, was completed in 1786, and the outer building, known as the Hall of the Great Buddha, was completed in 1794.
The precincts of the original temple were completely destroyed in a fire in 1888.  The present-day Kannon was rebuilt in 1892 and the reconstruction of the Hall of the Great Buddha was completed in 1896.
The Kannon is 7.87m high and made from mosaic cedar.  It was painted in lacquer and finished with gold paper.
The Hall of the Great Buddha is 21.2 high with a dual-layer wall.  A window in the upper part of the front of the building shows the face of the Kannon.  There is also a large, round pillar which acts as a support for the whole structure.
On February 11th each year a ceremony called “Daihan Kitoe” takes place here.  Participants pray for wisdom, peace and prosperity.
On August 22nd the annual “Shinbutsu Konkoku” festival is held. This festival incorporates gods from both the shinto and buddhist religions, a characteristic which is rarely found in Japan nowadays.
Please enjoy your visit to this religious site.

keywords:  traditions, religious belief
features:  tranquility,  peace of mind 

written by K. Asada

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8_Oriwatari Sentai Jizo Statues

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8. Oriwatari Sentai Jizo Statues (Oriwatari one thousand Jizo Statues)

location: Yurihonjo – 10 minutes from Iwaya railway station by car

These Jizo statues were founded by Zesanzenshi Bonze (the same man who founded the 11 Faces Kannon) around 200 years ago.  Originally, worshippers came to pray before these statues in the hope of long life.
Nowadays visitors pray in front of them for safety to passers-by and young children.
The Jizo statues originate from Fujian Province in China, and in the years after 1989 thousands of them were gradually brought here by contributors from all over Japan.  The statues were set down in rows covering the whole mountain. It took a long time to complete and this place subsequently became the sacred mountain of Jizo.
These Jizo statues have also acquired another name, as “wart-removing Jizo”.
It is said that someone took one stone from here home and rubbed a wart with it as they prayed in the hope of curing it … and, sure enough, the wart actually dissapeared.
As a result, anyone who takes a stone away and cures their wart with it is supposed to replace it with 2 new stones from the sea.

keywords:  traditions, religious belief
features:  spiritual, silence, remove warts, bell

written by M Sato

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