A castle town with the largest collection of stone Buddhas in japan
Usuki, a town located in Oita Prefecture, Japan, is a place rich in history and cultural heritage. Once a prosperous castle town in the 16th century, Usuki offers visitors a glimpse into its glorious past through its well-preserved historical sites and scenic beauty.
One of the highlights of Usuki is its collection of stone Buddhas. These stone figures, believed to have been carved in the 12th century, are a testament to the town’s rich religious history. There are more than 60 stone Buddhas in Usuki, making it the largest collection of its kind in Japan. These Buddhas, carved out of the cliff face in the hills about four kilometers from the town, are not only historically significant but also a sight to behold. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of the carvings and appreciate the craftsmanship of the ancient artists.
The stone Buddhas of Usuki were the first historic artifacts in Kyushu to be designated as a National Treasure. This designation highlights their importance and serves as a reminder of the town’s cultural significance. The stone Buddhas are not just religious symbols but also a reflection of the town’s deep connection to Buddhism and its role in shaping the region’s religious landscape.
One of the best times to visit Usuki and witness the stone Buddhas in all their glory is during the annual bamboo lantern festival, held in autumn. During this festival, thousands of lanterns are lit up, illuminating the stone Buddhas and creating a magical atmosphere. The sound of koto harp music from the temples adds to the enchanting ambiance, making it a truly unforgettable experience.
Aside from the stone Buddhas, Usuki has other attractions that are worth exploring. The Mangatsuji Temple, for example, is a peaceful and serene place that features guardians with unusual expressions. These unique expressions add an element of mystery and intrigue to the temple, making it an interesting place to visit for those interested in art and culture.
Another must-visit location in Usuki is Nioza Historic Street. This street is known for its white stone walls and stone pavement, which give it a charming and nostalgic atmosphere. Walking along this street feels like stepping back in time, as if you are transported to the Edo period. The well-preserved buildings and traditional architecture add to the authenticity of the experience, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
Getting to Usuki is relatively easy. The town can be reached by train, with a 38-minute ride from Oita Station to Usuki Station on the JR Nippo Main Line. Oita Station is served by the Kyudai, Hohi, and Nippo lines, providing access to much of Kyushu. The train journey itself offers scenic views of the countryside, allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the region as they make their way to Usuki.
Once in Usuki, exploring the old town is a must. The town’s role in Japanese diplomatic history cannot be overlooked, as it played a significant role in introducing a new age when it welcomed a Dutch ship that had drifted ashore about 400 years ago. Although the town’s castle was destroyed long ago, parts of the wall still remain, serving as a reminder of its past glory.
In conclusion, Usuki is a town that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its impressive collection of stone Buddhas to its serene temples and historic streets, Usuki provides visitors with a glimpse into Japan’s rich past. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful and scenic getaway, Usuki is a destination that should not be missed. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to this castle town with the largest collection of stone Buddhas in Japan. You won’t be disappointed.
Address And Maps Location: