The Stone Buddhas of Usuki is designated as a national treasure. This is located about five kilometers inland of the coastal city of Usuki. The stone Buddhas are located in four places relatively adjacent to each other. Access to the Buddhas is quite easy. From the car park at the bottom, after paying an admission fee of five hundred forty yen per person, the path linking the four areas is paved and not that steep. I understand that the statues are the work of unknown sculptors dating from the late Heian to early Kamakura period, probably late 12th to early 13th century. The statues have been eroded by standing there for close to a millennium in the rain and wind, but still retain tranquil and lively features. The faces of the Buddhas are round and many with pleasant smiles, typical of statues from the late Heian period under influence of the Tung Dynasty of China. The statues at the top of the path are the only ones you need to climb a few steps up a ladder to view. The audio guide informed us that this was the only Buddha facing west where people believed that paradise existed. Under advice of the audio we also took a look at the side of the head of the main Buddha in the middle and found that the back of the statue had been carved away and not embedded in the cliff. The audio informed us that this was because the substance of the cliff was tuff made from volcanic lava which is softer and easier to chisel. If you are interested in Ooita Prefecture, please browse the article on my trip on my homepage Rediscovering Japan (Ooita).
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