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Daibutsu 大仏

“No matter how many photographs of the colossus you may have already seen, this first vision of the reality is an astonishment. Then you imagine that you are already too near, though the image is at least a hudred yards away. As for me, I retire at once thirty or forty yards back, to get a better view. And the jinrikisha man runs after me, laughing and gesticulating, thinking that I imagine the image alive and am afraid of it.

But, even were that shape alive, none could be afraid of it. The gentleness, the dreamy passionlessness of those features, — the immense repose of the whole figure, — are full of beauty and charm. And, contrary to all expectation, the nearer you approach the giant Buddha, the greater this charm becomes. You look up into the solemnly beautiful face, — into the half closed eyes that seem to watch you through their eyelids of bronze as gently as those of a child; and you feel that the image typifies all that is tender and calm in the Soul of the East…

…a priest, who acts as guide, states the age of the statue to be six hundred and thirty years, and asks for some small contribution to aid in the erection of a new temple to shelter it from the weather.

For this Buddha once had a temple. A tidal wave following an earthquake swept walls and roof away, but left the mighty Amida unmoved, still meditating upon his lotus.” (Lafcadio Hearn, 1894, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, pp. 78-79)

And here we are more than 110 years in the future and the new temple still hasn’t been built! I suppose the moral to this story is “Never trust the religious man asking for contributions.” 😉

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