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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan. Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan.
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare. An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare.
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife. Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife.
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan. Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan.
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara. The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara.
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower. Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower.
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving. Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving.
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky. The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky.
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Nanzoin Temple 南蔵院

Start of the Sasaguri Pilgrimage and home to the world's most relaxed Buddha

Nanzoin Temple is in the Sasaguri area of Fukuoka Prefecture and is home to an enormous reclining Buddha that dwarfs the more famous giant bronze seated Buddha statues of Kamakura and Nara . The temple is more famous still for its connection to the Sasaguri Pilgrimage and many of the million or so visitors that come to the temple to complete this sacred walk every year.

Don't Miss

  • The Bronze Buddha: it would be a tall order to miss this statue, it's rather large
  • The Sasaguri Pilgrimage: Many of the visitors to the temple are not here for the Buddha, but rather for the three-day, 44-kilometer pilgrimage that starts at the temple

How to Get There

Nanzoin Temple is a three-minute walk from Kido Nanzoin-mae Station on the JR Sasaguri Line. Express trains from Hakata Station take 21 minutes, while local trains take 24 minutes.

The Reclining Buddha

Built in 1995, Nazoin's bronze Buddha is impressive. Known as Nehanzo, it is 41 meters in length, 11 meters in height, and weighs around 300 tons, approximately the same weight as a jumbo jet. The statue was built to house ashes of the Buddha and two of Buddha's adherents, Ananda and Maudgalyayana. The ashes were donated to the temple by the Buddhist Council of Myanmar following the temple's donation of medical supplies to the children of both Myanmar and Nepal.

Unlike most Buddha statues in Japan, its pose is reclining rather than sitting. The reclining pose is far more common to Buddha statues of south-east Asia and was the pose assumed by the Buddha as he met his death and entered Nirvana. The more common sitting pose found across Japan represents the Buddha meditating.

The reclining Buddha is reached by walking through the Shichifukujin Tunnel, which is dedicated to Japan's seven gods of fortune. At the statue, visitors are supposed to grasp the colored ropes that hang from the Buddha's left hand and say a prayer. Following this, it is customary to walk around to the ornately decorated feet of the Buddha and place a coin on the decorations for luck. For a 500 yen fee, visitors can enter the prayer room inside the statue.

From Koyasan to Sasaguri

Nazoin Temple moved from Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture to Sasaguri in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1899 after anti-Buddhist authorities in Wakayama threatened to destroy the temple in 1886. The temple occupies a large site that sprawls across the hillside. As well as the Nehanzo statue, there is a large statue of Fudo Myoo (a protective deity in the Shingon sect of Buddhism), 500 statues depicting the Buddha's disciples and an Inari shrine.

A route of pilgrimage

More than a million people visit Nanzoin each year, many of whom come to the temple to complete the three-day Sasaguri Pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage is 44 kilometers long, and many of the sites en route are located on the slopes of Mt. Wakasugi, which is located near Nazoin Temple. There are 88 sites along the pilgrimage route, 26 of which are full temples, while the rest tend to be smaller features such as memorial stones and small statues. Many of the temples have tea rooms and rest areas for those on pilgrimage.

Cleaning the Buddha

Every year before the New Year, hundreds of Buddhist faithful come together to clean the statue using bamboo leaves tied to five-meter poles.

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