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Ueno Daibutsu and Pagoda, a somewhat unusual spiritual place



2022.02.17 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

Take a stroll around Ueno Park in Taito City, and you might find rather strange structures; a pagoda and a countenance of the Buddha statue enshrined nearby. This is the Ueno Daibutsu and Pagoda, today's highlight.

This pagoda stands on a hill called Daibutsu Yama (The Great Buddha's Mountain) in the center of Ueno Park. The Great Buddha, the owner of the face preserved near the pagoda, was once enshrined on this hill long ago. The statue suffered many earthquakes and fires since it was erected in 1631. It was restored each time and watched over the locals throughout the years. However, its head fell off during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Its body was also provided to the military as a metal resource in World War II.

After the war, the Ueno Pagoda was erected where the Great Buddha's body once sat. This was done in cooperation with the locals in hopes of restoration. Although the head fell in the earthquake, it was salvaged and placed as a relief near this pagoda. It's said that this Great Buddha will not fall any further after overcoming many crises and is now a spiritual spot where students preparing for entrance exams come to pray for success. Stop by and get some power from this enduring Great Buddha. It's only a 5-minute walk from Ueno Station Park Exit.

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