Nanzoin is one of Fukuoka’s most popular day trip destinations, reachable by 30 minutes train ride.
Nanzoin Temple is a large complex with many chapels and shrines scattered over the hillside. The temple was built in 1899 and belongs to the school of Shingon Buddhism, which centers itself around nature and mountains. Nanzoin Temple is also a stop on one of Japan’s most famous pilgrimage routes – the Sasaguri Pilgrimage, which visits 88 temples in the area and is about 50 kilometers long. Read more about Sasaguri Pilgrimage here.
This Buddhist Temple is famous for a giant bronze statue of a reclining Buddha, measuring an impressive 41 meters long, 11 meters high, and weighing nearly 300 tons. This Buddha is said to be the largest bronze statue in the world. The figure, known as Nehan-zo, portrays the scene where the Buddha is dying and reaching nirvana. It was a thank you gift to Japan from Myanmar for financial and humanitarian aid and houses some of the Buddha’s ashes. In his hand, Buddha holds five colored strings that people can hold as they pray – the strings allow the person to connect to Buddha and absorb his knowledge and wisdom.
It is hard to imagine how humongous the statue is until you stand next to it and feel so small and insignificant! We were blown away.
Except for the giant Buddha, the temple scattered on the hillside has a lot of other things to offer. Take a walk through the forest and discover many smaller shrines, small waterfalls, red Tori gates, and picturesque forest paths. Check out the statue of Fudou Myouou, a Buddhist deity, and hundreds of tiny figures representing Buddha’s disciples. There is a belief that by visiting the temple you can improve your luck, so who knows, maybe I will win some lottery 🙂 There is even a spot near the Buddha where you can buy feathered darts to throw into pots to get good fortune.
In recent years, foreign tourists gained a bad reputation because of the way they behaved in front of the Buddha. As a result, groups of foreign tourists have been banned from the temple grounds, and only the individuals are allowed in.
Remember that this is a temple and a holy place, show your respect and don’t do stupid poses for Instagram. We actually saw one woman lying down on the floor, trying to imitate the statue, totally disregarding the importance of this place.