Summer in Northern Kyushu Part 6: Usuki Stone Buddhas (Usuki Sekibutsu)

Friday, October 07, 2016

This day trip was one of the highlights of my Northern Kyushu adventure last July. As I waved goodbye to Usuki Samurai District on a sunny Monday morning, a local bus took me to an excursion to the tranquil spot of Usuki Stone Buddhas (Usuki Sekibutsu). Since 1995, this area has been recognised as a Japanese National Treasure. According to an article I read online, "The figures of Usuki Stone Buddhas are said to have been created between the late Heian and the Kamakura period. This particular cluster in Usuki is one of the most notable in size, number, and quality in the country. They are Japan's first stone Buddhas, simultaneously Kyushu's first sculptures, to have been registered as a National Treasure. A total of 59 have been designated as such out of over 60 figures found at the site."
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Jizo and the Ten Kings
Unlike other tourist sites in Japan, Usuki maintains its rustic small town charm. That's not to say you won't encounter any other tourists, this is Japan after all. You will encounter a few, but you’ll be delighted to know that there are no bus-loads of Chinese, Korean and domestic tourists. During my visit, I did not encounter any annoying tourists (those people who like taking jump shots in a religious/holy places etc.) It was so quiet, peaceful and tranquil. 
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the bus going to Usuki Sekibutsu - it was empty!
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Usuki Sekibutsu's ticket office
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the path going to the stone buddhas
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the nine Amidas
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the Three Amidas
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outside the Hoki Second Cluster Gallery
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the stairs leading to the Hoki First Cluster Gallery
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the Nyorai Statues sculpted during the end of Heian Period
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Amida Nyorai (left), Kongokai Dainichi Nyorai (center) and Shaka Nyorai (right)
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The Three Amida Nyorais
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another Shaka Nyorai statue
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wooden torii gate leading to nowhere haha
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Furuzono Stone Buddha
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view from the giant buddha
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these trees remind me of My Neighbor Totoro <3
When I was looking at this view, an old lady stood beside me. She greeted me, "Konnichiwa!" and I answered "Konnichiwa!" Then, I mustered up my courage and asked "Sugoi desu ne (amazing right?)" She asked if I am a Nihonjin and I said no. She said a lot of things and she looked very eager to speak to me but I could not understand her. Huhu. We ended the conversation with "Ja" meaning good bye or see you. 😒 Honestly, I find it difficult or nerve-wracking to start chatting to people in Japan. Gotta learn some more Japanese phrases for next time!
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the Lotus Flower field!
Moving on... After an hour of seeing the Stone Buddhas, I went to the Lotus Flower field to see the flowers up close. I was lucky enough to witness them in bloom! My Japanese dorm mate, Sarah, mentioned the day prior to my visit that there was a Lotus Flower Festival in Usuki. I was happy because I was able to photograph so much stuff in just a day! The old Samurai District, the Stone Buddhas and the Lotus Flowers - it was astonishing! 
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very few local tourists during my visit
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house or storage room? no idea
Wondering why there was a Lotus Flower field in Usuki? According to the tourist pamphlet I got from the ticket office, Lotuses are symbols of purity and divine birth. The lotus flower grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth to the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment. This is why the Buddha sits on a lotus in bloom. #nowyouknow
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I finished my tour at around 2:00 in the afternoon. At that point in time, I was already famished. Because I needed to catch the bus going to the Stone Buddhas at 12 noon, I decided to skip lunch. Good thing, there were some nearby restaurants and so I ate before returning to Usuki Station. Look at the very satisfying (and expensive!) fish meal I had that afternoon. ^_^


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So, this is the end of my tour in Usuki. I seriously hope you enjoyed this post! Anyone going to Northern Kyushu soon? I recommend an overnight stay in Usuki if you can. After the tour, I regretted that I only settled for a day trip. It was hardly enough for anything more than just photos and a quick tour. If I ever get a chance to go back, I will definitely stay overnight. :)


Check out my other Northern Kyushu posts right here:
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