Tokyo Daibutsu – A Big Buddha in Tokyo

Japan’s third-largest bronze Buddha, Tokyo Daibutsu (or Tokyo’s Big Buddha), is at the temple of Jorenji. At thirty-two tons and thirteen meters high, it is a fraction smaller than the one in Kamakura. While it is a little difficult to get to, it is worth the effort.

There is nothing special about the area where Jorenji is. Skyscrapers and car-jammed roads are nowhere to be seen. Nor are there cat cafes. It’s no Asakusa or Harajuku. It is all houses and trees. Everything is Tokyo suburbia.  

The entrance to the temple is up a classic steep staircase. It is like one of those you see in the Samurai movies. Luckily, this one isn’t too long! On it is a gate (as at other temples) housing the four heavenly kings of Buddhism.

Once past the gates and up the last stairs, you’ll be in the middle of the complex. In front of you will be the main hall. The Buddha will be on your right. 

It was enshrined in 1977 to commemorate the Great Kanto Earthquake victims of 1923 and World War Two. Black with soft features, it sits upon a lotus flower pedestal. The statue is impressive. Nearby ginkgo trees make it very picturesque in autumn.

Jorenji temple main hall
Jorenji temple's main worship hall.

As it is a Buddhist temple, there is a bell tower, historical graves, a reliquary, and statues. My favorite statues are the seven deities of luck. For some reason, they reminded me of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves. There is even a pond filled with many hungry carp. Of course, there is a shop where you can buy amulets, miniature Buddhas, ema, and omikuji.

It is a very peaceful, quiet place.  Small but with enough nooks and crannies to please even avid temple lovers. Rarely are many people there on a typical day. Some go to pray, and some seem to explore, like me.

What can you photograph there?

  • Shrine architecture. Jorenjin is another beautiful Tokyo temple.
  • The Buddha. At thirteen meters high, it is big. It is also black. It is gorgeous in autumn when the ginkgo trees behind it are yellow.
  • Many smaller Buddhist icons are on the grounds, including the seven deities of luck. Finding them all is fun.
Jorenji temple Seven stone deities of luck
The seven deities of luck.

Photo spots near Tokyo Daibutsu

After a visit to Tokyo Daibutsu, you could drop into:

  • The Akatsuka Botanical Garden is next door. But, to be honest, it’s not of the same quality as others in Tokyo.
  • The Itabashi Art Museum is very close and has some good displays if you like art. 
  • Other than that, there isn’t that much within easy walking distance.

Tokyo Daibutsu details

See the temple’s location and opening hours on the official website.

Wrapping up

Tokyo’s Big Buddha isn’t as far as the one in Kamakura. But, it is still a long way from the city’s center when considering the walk. Still, it is worth making the trip, especially in autumn, when the ginkgo trees are yellow.

Jorenji temple buddhist heavenly king wooden statue
One of Buddhism's heavenly kings.

If you are into temples, Jorenji and Tokyo Daibutsu are for you. I will go again, as I have a few photos to retake. And I would love to see the area in spring. Hopefully, that will happen one day.

For more Buddhist-related articles, look at:

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