Usuki Sekibutsu Stone Buddhas

Oita Usuki Buddha

Although Kunisaki, in the north of Oita Prefecture, has by far the greatest number of stone buddhas found anywhere in Japan, Usuki also has its fair share including an image of Dainichi Nyorai, which is considered to be the finest example of its type in Japan. Thought to date back 1,000 years, each of Usuki’s Buddhas were finely carved and residues of painting that once coloured the stone can still be seen. Today, 59 of the 60 found here are registered as National Treasures.

Usuki’s Buddhas are about six kilometres outside of Usuki’s town centre, on a rise overlooking a wide flat valley, dotted with ponds. Each summer, lotus leaves shroud the waters and, in July, the plant’s delicate pinkish-white flowers rise from the murky depths. Lotus flowers are revered in Buddhism for their ability to rise from the dirt to bloom unblemished and beautiful; a process symbolising the attainment of enlightenment. Usuki’s Stone Buddhas are delightfully serene at any time of year but especially so in the muggy, heat of summer.

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