Tuesday, June 1, 2010

兵庫大仏 Hyogo Daibutsu

Bronze Hyogo Daibutsu at Nofuku-ji in Kōbe. Although Nofuku-ji suffered extensive damage during the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and underwent drastic repairs, the Buddha was not disturbed. The original bronze Daibutsu was put in place in 1891, sadly it was melted down during WWII to make weapons and the present statue was cast in 1991. The bronze has developed the smoky green patina that comes from exposure to the idiosyncrasies of ocean air and stands 18 meters (on a 10 meter pedestal) weighing 60 tons, making it one of the largest in Japan. The more celebrated Kamakura Buddha and the Nara Buddha are only centimeters taller and while they are also impressive they are also quite remote and difficult to access. The location and the steps leading up to the lotus flower where the Buddha sits makes the Hyogo Buddha very approachable and on weekdays the temple is virtually empty. I had some trouble finding it at first, but eventually while I was wandering around I looked-up to see this large curious head just peering over the nearby houses, buildings and walls. I was surprised to find him actually sitting in somewhat unceremonious surroundings common in the semi-urban/industrial area of modern Hyogo but ultimately this contrast serves the statue, accentuating its impressive size and beauty.

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