Aomori Showa Daibutsu: The Biggest Bronze Seated Buddha in Japan
Aomori Showa Daibtsu is the biggest bronze seated Buddha in Japan and is located at Seiryu-Ji in Aomori. You can get inside of the Buddha statue, and there is a war memorial and a Buddha museum. The grounds around Showa Daibtsu have the fourth highest 5-story pagoda in Japan, a well-manicured Japanese garden, and other traditional Japanese buildings. You can also experience copying sutra anytime and Zen meditation, which you need to make an appointment before you visit.
The tallest seated statue of Buddha in Japan
Showa Daibutsu is located at Seiryu-Ji (Blue-Green Dragon Temple) in Aomori Prefecture. Aomori is in the Northern Tōhoku region and the northernmost prefecture of Honshu, Japan’s main island. The Great Acharya Ryūkou Oda established Seiryu-Ji as an affiliate temple of Koyasan in 1982, and the construction of Showa Daibutsu is completed in 1984.
Showa Daibutsu is the tallest bronze seated statue of Buddha in Japan. The best-known Great Buddha at Todai-Ji (Eastern Great Temple) in Nara is seated at a height of 14.98 meters/49 feet, and the height of Great Buddha in Kamakura is 13.35 meters/43 feet. Showa Daibutsu is taller than the Great Buddha statues in Nara and Kamakura, reaching up to 21.35 meters/70 feet. The width from knee to knee is about 15 meters/50 feet, and it weighs 220 tons. The Buddha stands in the open air and looks like it is floating among the trees. The meditation mudra of Showa Daibtsu is called hokkai jouin: hokkai means the Dharma-realm, and jouin is the abbreviation for Zen meditation mudra. Both hands are placed on the lap with the palms turned upwards and the thumbs touching each other. In Showa Daibutsu case, the right hand is on top of the left. While other Buddha statues are decorated simply, Showa Daibutsu has gorgeous ornaments on the head, chest, and arms to show the deity of Dainichi Nyorai (Sanskrit: Mahāvairocana).
The view of the Showa Daibtsu is spectacular, and he is waiting for you with a peaceful smile. It is a nice place to calm down, and meditate in front of this gigantic Buddha. The temple grounds and buildings are combined with beautiful nature, and it is so peaceful to walk around and take some pictures. There is also a well-manicured Japanese Garden where you can touch the beauty of traditional Japan.
5-Story Wooden Pagoda
The 5-story wooden pagoda is the fourth highest pagoda in Japan, and the height is 39.35 meters/13 feet. It is made from Japanese Hiba cypress trees grown in Aomori prefecture and completed in 1996. It has survived various natural disasters including typhoon or fire, and surprisingly it did not collapse from the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in 2011 because of having a base-isolation structure. On the way to Showa Daibtsu, you will see colorful pinwheels around trees. They are for those lost their children and for the pacification of their own souls and for that of the child’s.
There is a restaurant where you can enjoy light meals such as Japanese noodles: Soba or Udon. They also have Japanese traditional sweets and green teas. Whenever you are tired from traveling or walking around, you can always take tea breaks here. The restaurant opens from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm from April 1st to October 31st. You can buy souvenirs and candles and incense to light in a shop right next to the restaurant. The shop opens from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm from April 1st to October 31st.
Explore the inside of Showa Daibtsu
Inside of Showa Daibutsu, there is a war memorial and a Buddha Museum. The war memorial is not only those who killed in wars but also for their enemies. Seiryu-Ji was built for world peace and to show the all-encompassing mercy of Buddha. You can see the pictures about paradise and hell of Buddha’s afterlife in the museum.
Sutra copying and Zen meditation
Copying Sutra (Shakyo)
You can copy the sutra anytime from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and the cost is 1,000 yen. Even if you are not a follower, you can still join the copying sutra. You can pray for peace and health for family members and people around you by tracing the letters. The benefits are also, for calming your noisy mind, clearing mental clutter, and great posture!
They hold Zen meditation with Lenten fare breakfast from 6:00 am on only the second and fourth Sunday (April-November). This seminar includes preaching by a monk and chanting a sutra, but only Japanese available. You have to make an appointment by calling them (+81-017-726-2312) before you attend it. The cost for Zen meditation is 1,000 yen.
How to visit?
Fly from Haneda Airport to Aomori Airport for 90 minutes. If you use a taxi to get Seiryu-Ji, it’s about a half hour from both Aomori Airport and JR Shin-Aomori station, and about 20 minutes from JR Aomori station. You can also get a bullet train from Tokyo station to Shin-Aomori station, and it’s 3 and a half hours ride. Then take the city bus bounding for Showa Daibutsu, which is 50 minutes ride and costs 560yen, from JR Aomori Station front #3 bus stop, and get off at Showa Daibutsu bus stop.
Address: Seiryu-ji temple, 45 Kuwabara Yamazaki, Aomori 030-0935
8:00 AM - 5:30 PM (Apr. – Oct.)
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (Nov. – Mar.)
¥400 for adults 18 and over
¥200 for children 12 and over
- Seiryu-Ji is handicap friendly, and they have a few electric carts if you need.
Looming over the forest's trees, Seiryuji Temple of Aomori prefecture is immediately noticeable f...