A trip to Japan isn’t complete without at least one trip to a temple, which is ji or tera in Japanese. While you’ll likely find that temples are quite a common sight, not every temple has a Buddha statue with a hand the size of your body. These large, divine statues are known as Daibutsu, or “giant Buddha.”
Some of these Daibutsu are carved from stone, while others are forged using bronze. Whichever the case, each statue comes with its own interesting origin story— some of which are thousands of years in the making.
Here are five of some of the most iconic Daibutsu spread across Japan.
1. Todai-ji Daibutsu (Nara)
Todai-ji Daibutsu is found in Todai-ji Temple in Nara. The temple and surrounding park area are well-known for their friendly (sometimes not so friendly) deer, but the area is also steeped in history.
The statue takes a seated position and measures 15 meters in height. It represents Vairocana, the Illuminator, and has its hand out in a gesture of blessing or protection. The palm alone of this open hand measures an overwhelming 148 centimeters.
The statue, its surrounding halls and structures underwent a lot of hardships and damage over the years. Some of which were caused by fires, wars and earthquakes. But each time, the statue was dutifully repaired, allowing us to see it in all its glory to this day.