Where to seek out the Great Floating Buddha of Ikebukuro

Tokyo ward known for its otaku culture holds a hidden gem not many individuals learn about.

Once you hear the word “Daibutsu” (“Great Buddha”) in Japan, the very first thing that sometimes involves mind is the Daibutsu in Nara, or the Daibutsu in Kamakura. Nonetheless, did there’s a Daibutsu right in the guts of Tokyo? And this one, unlike the others, is floating within the air?

It’s something that’s gone under the radar for us each time we’ve visited the otaku ‘hood of Ikebukuro, which is healthier known for its Sega arcade and cosplay events and than it’s for its Buddhist culture.

Nonetheless, when you get off on the station here, you’re only a seven minute walk away from Sengyoji, a temple tucked under a “green constructing” that’s designed to seem like a mountain in the guts of town.

The constructing may very well be easily mistaken for an odd industrial complex in Tokyo, but that is the house of Sengyoji, which can also be home to…the Ikebukuro Daibutsu.

It appears that evidently we’re now in an era where stopping off to go to a Great Buddha is as easy and as casual as stopping by a restaurant, because there’s no long approach to the temple here.

▼ Simply step into the darkness, and the Great Buddha will steadily reveal itself to you.

The sight of a Great Buddha floating within the air is really one to behold, and it floats beautifully, at a height of around 5.5 metres (18 feet) off the ground. The Buddha itself is roughly 4.6 meters tall, and based on the temple it’s designed to represent the seated figure of Gautama Buddha floating in empty space.

Made entirely of cypress, the body is alleged to contain 8,461 hand-copied sutras that were presented to the temple.

That’s quite plenty of weight to suspend from the ground, nevertheless it’s a feat that’s completed elegantly, with the assistance of two hidden protruding beams that hold it in place on the back wall.

Once you stop off to see the Great Buddha of Ikebukuro, you’ll also give you the chance to go to this old-school candy stand on the premises…

…and buy an unusual kind of goshuin seal stamp, priced at 3,000 yen (US24.41), which incorporates a picket model of the Buddha surrounded by clouds to make it seem as if it’s floating within the air.

Admission is free, so next time you’re in search of a spot to heal your heart in amongst the boys’ love cafes of Ikebukuro, it is advisable to stop by and examine the floating Buddha.

Then you definitely can proceed your journey towards enlightenment with a visit to the smallest Great Buddha of Japan, situated in Tokyo’s neighbouring Chiba Prefecture.

Temple information
Sengyoji / 仙行寺
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Minamiikebukuro 2-20-4
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

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