Although it's not as famous as the giant Buddha statues in Kamakura or Nara, the 120-meter-tall Daibutsu in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo, is just as impressive. And it's well worth a day trip.
I first caught sight of the statue from the air — it's so tall that it can be seen on the approach to Narita Airport. That initial glimpse piqued my curiosity, so I made my way to the city of Ushiku and was rewarded with a remarkable experience.
This stunning Amitabha Buddha, completed in 1995, is one of the world's tallest statues. There's a museum inside the structure, and visitors can take an elevator to four different levels. The top is situated more than 80 meters above the ground, and windows in the Buddha's chest offer a wonderful view of the surrounding gardens, a zoo and the expanse of Ibaraki Prefecture.
Ushiku is easily accessible by public transportation. It's a 90-minute train ride from JR Narita Station to JR Ushiku Station, and from there a bus service runs to the Daibutsu.
Name: Uwe Henke
Frankfurt District Office, Germany
Address: 2083 Kunocho, Ushiku, Ibaraki
HOURS: Mar.–Sep.: 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (until 5:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun. & hols.); Oct.–Feb.: 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
ADMISSION: 800 yen (adults; Dec.–Mar.: 700 yen), 400 yen (children)
ACCESS: 15 minutes by taxi or 20–30 minutes by bus from JR Ushiku Station