Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Showa Daibutsu: The Best Temple to Visit in Aomori City

Not very from from the city center of Aomori, Japan’s largest bronze sitting Buddha statue is quietly sitting in the precinct of Seiryū-ji Temple (青龍寺). The statue is called Showa Daibutsu (昭和大仏). It is the statue of Vairocana (大日如来), completed in 1984. The gigantic statue has a weight of 220 tons and a height of 21.35 meters (27 meters if the pedestal is included). Compared to other Buddha statues, Showa Daibutsu has gorgeous decorations on his body.

Ⓒ ⼀般社団法⼈東北観光推進機構

Inside the Buddha statue is a hall for visitors to offer prayers for a peaceful afterlife for the soldiers who passed away in past wars. It is now a place for anyone to pray for world peace.

Also, on the first floor, there is a painting with both the Pure Land and hell painted.

The statue is at the far back of the temple’s spacious ground. You must first walk past other temples’ buildings and statues to get there.

Seiryū-ji’s Pagoda

Seiryū-ji was founded by Oda Ryūkō (織田隆弘) in 1982 as a branch of Kōyasan (高野山).

The wooden pagoda made of Aomori’s hinoki wood has a height of 39.35 meters, making it the 4th highest wooden pagoda in Japan.

Miraculously, the pagoda completed in 1996 wasn’t destroyed by natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and fire hazards. Even the earthquake of a magnitude of 8.9 that happened in 2011 didn’t manage to knock it down!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Apparently, this is all thanks to the quality of the Hinoki wood and the seismic isolation structure the building was built with.

Seiryū-ji’s Kondō Hall (金堂)

Kondō is the center of Seiryū-ji.

What you also can’t miss out on is the painting that illustrates the scene where Amida Buddha welcomes the holy spirits to the Pure Land (阿弥陀聖衆来迎大絵図) and the statue where Amida Buddha turns his head (みかえり阿弥陀像). They are both the treasures of Seiryū-ji.

When people talk about holy spirits, it might sound like something really far away from us. But in Pure Land Buddhism, holy spirits are something that any of us can become.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Of course, there are criteria. Suppose you are a kind person who has done many good deeds and has a strong will to be born into the Pure Land (of course, you must believe in the existence of the Pure Land first). In that case, Amida Buddha will come and pick you up and guide you to the Pure Land, where you will have eternal life and enjoy eternal joy.

What is the statue that Amida Buddha turns his head trying to convey?

The Buddha turned his head because he heard some noise coming from that direction while explaining the truth of the world/universe. So he asked, are there any latecomers who missed out on the Dharma talk earlier?

With his head turning left, it is showing us Amida Buddha’s kindness and consideration that he has towards all creatures.

Shōjin Ryōri (精進料理) at Seiryū-ji

From April to October, if you are with a group of 5 or more, you can reserve to enjoy the vegetarian monk cuisine at the temple.

On top of the meal, you can also enjoy traditional dry confectionary and a bowl of matcha green tea.

The session that starts at 11:15 am will cost 4,200 yen per person. This usually includes listening to the Dharma talk from the monk. Obviously, if you don’t understand Japanese, you can check with the temple to see if this can be skipped or replaced with a zen session.

To reserve, please give the temple a call at +81-17-726-2312 at least 1 week in advance. If you don’t speak Japanese and won’t be visiting the temple until later in your trip, you can see if the staff at your hotel on your first night can make the reservation on your behalf.

For some photos of the lunch session, refer to the temple’s website HERE.

How to Get to Showa Daibutsu

  • The temple is open from 8 am to 5:30 pm and will close early at 4:30 pm from November to March.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for elementary to high school students
  • From Aomori Station (青森駅)’s bus stop no. 3, take buses bound for Kuwabara (桑原) or Showa Daibutsu (昭和大仏) and get off at Kuwabara or Showa Daibutsu.
    • From the bus stop Kuwabara, it is less than a 10-minute walk to the temple.
    • The bus trip will take around 45 minutes.
    • For the service’s timetable, you can refer to the official website’s left menu HERE.
    • The first table is for weekdays. The second table is for weekends and public holidays. Both are bound for Showa Daibutsu. The third table is for buses bound for Kuwabara.

Find Out Where Else to Go in Aomori

Click the photo to find out more about the fascinating attractions in the city!

Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture, has a wealth of beautiful nature, such as the Hakkōda mountain ranges and Mutsu Bay. Stunning scenery can be adorned throughout the year. In the fall, it is time to find out your favorite kinds of apples!

The city also has a couple of cultural heritages for you to enjoy a different side of Japanese culture.

For more information, please refer to our article on Aomori!

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