Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Tōchō-ji Temple and Japan’s Largest Wooden Buddha Statue

You might have heard of one of the Holiest Mountains In Japan, Kōyasan, and thus you might know about its founder, Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師). After returning to Japan from China, he spent around four years in Hakata and founded his first temple, Tōchō-ji (真言宗 東長寺), in 806. Since the late 20th century, what has been drawing tourists to the temple is Japan’s Biggest Wooden Gautama Buddha sitting Statue, known as Fukuoka Daibutsu. You will definitely be amazed by its size!

If you visit Hakata in early spring, what welcomes you after you pass through the Nitenmon Gate (二天門) is a gigantic cherry tree and its pink flowers.

A Brief History of Tōchō-ji and Kuroda Clan (黒田家)

Affected by the civil wars during the Sengoku period (1467 – 1615), Tōchō-ji was desecrated. Fortunately, it was restored by the second lord of the Fukuoka Domain, Kuroda Tadayuki (黒田忠之), as his family temple.

Fukuoka Daibutsu (福岡大仏)

© 福岡市

On the second floor of the worship hall, you will find Japan’s biggest wooden Gautama Buddha sitting statue, Fukuoka Daibutsu. The Buddha statue has a height of 10.8 meters and weighs as heavy as 30 tons. Taking into account the 13 Buddha carved around the Buddha’s halo, the statue’s height reaches 16.1 meters!

The height was set to be 10.8 meters because, according to the Buddist sutra, it is the number of different worries each human has.

The statue was made relatively recently, from 1988 over four years. On the wall behind the Buddha statue, around 5,000 small Buddha statues are enshrined.

In addition, you can enter the statue’s pedestal for an idea of what the Hell and Amida Buddha’s Pureland looks like (The Hell and Pureland Tour, 地獄極楽めぐり). Following the dark passageway beyond the paintings of the Hell and the Pureland, you will get to where the Daibutsu’s Wheel is placed (大仏の輪). It is said that if you touch the wheel, you will be guided to the Pureland one day.

The Five-Story Pagoda

In 2011, a five-story vermilion-colored pagoda was completed. The building, which has a height of 26 meters, blends in really well with the greeneries around.

A Busshari (Buddha’s bone) brought back by Kōbō Daishi from China is placed on the pagoda’s top floor.

If you get a chance to enter the pagoda, the first floor has a painting of Vairocana (大日如来). Surrounding the Buddha are beautiful flowers and birds painted delicately.


Rokkaku-dō (六角堂)

© 福岡市

Rokkaku-dō is where the temple places a couple more Buddha images. It was built in 1842 by donations collected from merchants around the country by Bungoya Eizō (豊後屋栄蔵). Designed by Nagoya’s famous carpenter, who specialized in building temples, Rokkaku-dō was constructed in a deformed hexagon shape so pilgrims could worship the Buddha images easily.

The worship hall is open on the 28th of each month. If the Buddha image in front of you isn’t who you want to worship, rotate the alcove to expose other Buddha statues in which you hold a deeper faith.

The Thousand-Armed Kannon Bodhisattva Statue

The main image of Tōchō-ji is a Thousand-Armed Kannon Bodhisattva statue carved in the late Heian period (794 1185). If you are interested in seeing this hidden statue, plan your visit for the 15th of June (Kōbō Daishi’s birthday), the 3rd of February (Setsubon Taisai Festival), and the 20th of October (incantation service).

Daishi-dō (大師堂)

The last unique thing we want to introduce to you is the giant Japamala (a loop of prayer beads).

At the front of the worship hall, the Japamala is hung from the ceiling. It will create quite a large sound by the wooden beads if you pull it.

Tōchō-ji’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Tōchō-ji is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • To see the Fukuoka Daibutsu, it will cost 50 yen.
  • From Hakata Station (博多駅), it is around a 10-minute walk.
  • From Fukuoka Subway’s Gion Station’s (祇園駅) exit no. 1, it is just a 1-minute walk.

Explore Hakata With a Guided Tour or Hire a Photographer

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Hakata, how about joining one of the below tours? You can also hire a photographer for a private photoshoot session!

Tip: Refer to HERE if you want to rent a Kimono when you are in Hakata!

Discover More Attractions Around Hakata Station

Click the photo to find out more about attractions around Hakata Station!

Want to find out more interesting attractions that you might be interested in or delicious restaurants to treat yourself to around Hakata Station?

Refer to our article on Hakata, where we have attractions such as a rooftop shrine or a gorgeous Japanese garden for a brief break!

Discover Other Attractions in the Wider Fukuoka City

If you have more time to spend in Fukuoka, the city has a couple more awesome destinations that might interest you, including islands with vast, stunning flower fields.

For more information, please refer to our article on Fukuoka City!

Click the photo for more attractions to visit in Fukuoka!

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