Saturday, June 20, 2009

Japan Trip 2009: Ushiku Daibutsu

This is one of those things I've been meaning to do on every trip I've ever taken to Japan and have never gotten around to before.

The Ushiku Daibutsu is the tallest bronze statue in the world. It used to be the tallest statue of any kind in the world, but that title now belongs to another Buddha statue in China (made of copper). Ushiku Daibutsu is in my wife's prefecture, and we've driven by it a whole bunch of times but never actually gone up there. It's kind of like how I'm within sight of the Statue of Liberty pretty much every other day so I never think to actually visit it; my in-laws are the same with this. But we finally went this time, at least for 10 minutes or so. (We didn't have time to go inside, though you can go up to the top and look out through slits in the Buddha's chest.)

This thing is huge. It's difficult to capture its scale in pictures. That concrete base alone is three stories high. The statue itself is three times taller than the Statue of Liberty and 30 times larger by volume. I heard some other westerners saying "what's the point?" as they were looking at it, but that's like asking "what's the point of a temple?" or "what's the point of a cathedral?" It is a religious thing, not just a tourist destination.

I didn't just go there because it's a big statue, though. No, I went there because of course, this was the setting for the final battle scene of one of my favorite movies!

That's the ending of "Kamikaze Girls", which is about a Lolita and a Yanqui girl who react very differently to the boringness of Ibaraki prefecture (and let's face it, it is boring), but who end up best friends. At the end of the movie, they need to fight their way through an all-girl biker gang, meeting up at Ushiku Daibutsu.

We actually looked for the exact spot where they filmed this but we couldn't find it, mostly because we forgot what the actual view of the statue was in the movie. We were looking everywhere but this side. I don't think you can actually get to that location from inside the statue grounds anyway; you can see that even in the movie, it's fenced off. It's probably not empty anymore either; I think they cleared this area just for filming. I definitely didn't see any clearings like this anywhere around the statue. (If you look at the Google map aerial view of this area, you can see where the filming must have taken place, and that land seems to have some sort of use.)

Ah well. Still was fun, though, and an impressive sight. Nothing like this exists in the United States, not on this scale.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I linked to your blog post from my own describing my trip to see the Ushiku Daibutsu. Hope you don't mind.



About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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