Maren Pauli

Nanzo Temple

See the biggest reclining Buddha statue in the world

Maren Pauli
Maren Pauli   - 3 min read

The stone lanterns are partly covered with moss and grass, and the Japanese maple trees show their colorful autumn leaves. Some are still green, others bright yellow or vibrantly red. But the most striking thing about Nanzo-in is its tranquillity. Close to the mountains and only 20 minutes by train from Fukuoka City, you’ll find the not-yet-well-known temple with its amazing atmosphere.

When you enter Nanzo-in, you’ll first follow a path framed by mossy stone lanterns. It leads to a small yard with lots of beautiful details and great photo spots: a small red bridge and a tiny waterfall, hundreds of small stone Buddha statues all the way up the hill, stones covered with mosses and ferns, and even big rock formations with a cave-like path to go through. There is also a real cave you can enter, and inside you’ll find an altar and a dragon candle stand. It's too gloomy to take pictures, but just right for the atmosphere.

Follow the route through the temple area and you’ll come to a wooden shelf with 7 Buddha statues. Take a look at them and choose the one you like best. Try to lift it. If it’s light and you can easily lift it, you can make a wish. If it’s heavy, your wish has to wait and you’ll have to put more effort in your request. Choose well, as there is only one buddha statue that is light, while the others are heavier than they look.

Nanzo-in was originally located at Mount Koya, but moved to its current location in 1899. The government had planned to destroy the temple during the anti-Buddhist movement in 1886, but local people petitioned against it and achieved the relocation to Sasaguri. Now the temple is part of the “Sasaguri 88” pilgrimage route, which is similar to the famous pilgrimage of Shikoku.

If you leave the temple area and go further up the mountain, you’ll see the massive reclining statue of Buddha. It has a length of 41 m and represents Buddha at the moment of death and passage into nirvana. The bronze statue is 11 m high and the biggest in the world. You can take a walk around the statue, have a look at the soles of the feet, and see the holy teachings there written in gold. Colorful bands are wrapped around the statue’s hand and lead to the ground. You can hold the ends of the bands and be connected with Buddha for a moment.

Getting there

To get to Nanzo-in, take the Sasaguri Line from Hakata Station and get off at Kidonanzoin-mae. Plan an hour or two to walk around and enjoy the place.

More info

Find out more about Nanzoin Temple.

Maren Pauli

Maren Pauli @maren.pauli

Born and raised in Berlin, Germany, I realized that my hometown is a village when I first came to Tokyo over 10 years ago. I love to experience the world and show people what I discover, so I never travel without my camera. One of my favorite hobbies is getting lost, as I have no sense of directi...