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Let’s Touch Face of Great Buddha!

Do you want to pass your hand over the face of a Great Buddha statue? You would never fail in any exam!

Have you visited the Todai-ji Temple in Nara or the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura? If you have been there, I’m 100% sure that you have enjoyed seeing the Great Buddha statue over there: they are not only the objects of worship but the objects of art.

The Japanese believe that, if people had a chance to “physically” touch the face of a Great Buddha, they could receive its divine help and become much more competent than ever, especially in entrance exams. If you were a Buddhist monk or a member of the temple staff, you might be able to touch the face when cleaning the statue. Without devoting yourself to the Buddhist priesthood, is there any chance? The answer is yes; there is one place in Japan where your physical touch can be made!

Before I inform you of where the place is, let me share some story behind the belief. The Great Buddha statue at the place has lived a life full of ups and downs. It was constructed with plaster in the early 17th century but soon destroyed by an earthquake. The 2nd statue in gilt bronze was burned down by a fire in the 19th century. The 3rd statue was severely damaged by another earthquake in the 19th century. The 4th statue was hit by the Kanto Great Earthquake in the early 20th century and the head of the statue fell to the ground. The temple stored the damaged head and other remains but during World War II, they were forced to donate the remains except for the face to the military which was desperate for any kind of metal for weapons. After the war, the face was returned to the original place. Since then, the face of the Great Buddha has been the object of worship by people, especially by students who will take entrance examinations for colleges, high schools, and junior-high schools. The Great Buddha has a history of its head falling down four times by three earthquakes and a fire. “Falling down” in English is “Ochiru” in Japanese. “Ochiru” in Japanese often suggests “failure in examinations”. Now that it is only the face of the Great Buddha placed, there should be no more chance of “Ochiru” from the body (no body exists), which is interpreted as no more “failure in examinations”. You may call it a play on words but students are serious. 

If you have children who are going to take an entrance exam to a university or a college difficult to enter, you may want to have your children touch the face of the Great Buddha for its divine help. It is located in XXXX in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. Please contact me; I am more than happy to organize a short tour. 

JIN Shibata, a member of iTWS japan
email: jin.shibata@i3ws.co.jp

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