Fukuoka’s Nanzoin Temple: The Largest Reclining Buddha in the World
We introduced the largest standing Buddha statue in Japan in a previous article. Today, we’re showing you the largest reclining Buddha statue. We’re not sure if the photos will do justice but in person it’s jaw-dropping! Photo: https://www.flickr.com
This is the Reclining Buddha of Nanzoin Temple found in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture. This Budda is 41m long, 11m tall, weighs 300 tons and is said to be the biggest bronze “nehan-butsu” (Nirvana Buddha) in the world. By the way, “nehan-zo” is a statue of the Buddha lying on his side and it represents the Buddha after he completed all of his teachings and is about to enter Nirvana. The closed eyes means the Buddha has reached Nirvana.
This Reclining Buddha is the most famous of the “Sasaguri 88” pilgrimage sites (where you visit all the 88 temples and Buddhist institutions in Sasaguri). Every year 1.2 million people from around the world come to visit Nanzoin to see this Reclining Buddha.
*It’s not officially announced as the largest in the world, but at the very least it’s the largest in Japan.
Feature 1: A Very Japanese Townscape
Get off at Kido-Nanzoin-mae Station and you’ll find Nanzoin right away but we want you to go and tour the lush green town of Sasaguri right before you go to Nanzoin. The scenery is spread out everywhere and you can get your fill just from taking a walk.
Also, the bridge that connects the station and Nanzoin is called Melody Bridge (also known as Kido Bridge). It’s an unusual bridge where it will play a song if you tap the metal chimes in order.
It looks like this when you reach Nanzoin. It really feels like your body is being purified.
Feature 2: The Acala is big too
There’s not just a giant Reclining Buddha at Nanzoin. There’s also a giant Acala standing at 11m high. His facial expression and the fire burning behind him looks scary but don’t worry, he’s a kind and blessing Buddha.
Feature 3: Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Fortune) Tunnel
This is the tunnel you take to the Reclining Buddha. On the left and right are black rails, each with an engraving of the Buddha. Being in here makes you wonder where you’re going and if you’re not headed to a parallel universe. As the name implies, the seven gods of fortune are also in here so don’t forget your prayers.
Paying Homage to the Reclining Buddha 1
Once you leave the Shichifukujin Tunnel, suddenly you see what you came for: the Reclining Buddha! When you visit him, you’re meant to tightly grasp the 5-colored strings he’s holding in his left hand and say a prayer. It represents shaking hands with the Reclining Buddha.
Paying Homage to the Reclining Buddha 2
Once your visit on the front side of the Buddha is finished, walk around to the soles of his feet. They’ll look like this. The Buddha’s feet are called “bussoku” and are where you direct your prayers. At Nanzoin it’s said that you’ll have good luck with money if you touch the soles. Also, there are many people who put coins between or on top of the designs. You’ll often see Japanese money mixed in with money from other countries.
You can also walk around to the back of the Reclining Buddha. If you pay a small fee you can also enter inside, just like with the big Buddha in Kamakura. Check it out if you’re interested!
The Nanzoin Reclining Buddha is so large it’s hard to take a normal photograph of the whole thing. Go there in person, compare the mountains in the background to the size of this Buddha and experience for yourself its enormity. Information: Map