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The Tōchō-ji Temple in the centre of Fukuoka is one of the city’s biggest attractions. This is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan and houses the largest sitting wooden Buddha in the country. In spring, the temple grounds offer a magnificent display of flowering cherry blossoms.
The temple also houses the tomb of the monk Kūkai. Kūkai commissioned the construction of the Tōchō-ji Temple in 806 after his return from China, where he had followed Buddhist training. He was the founder of Shingon, a stream of Japanese Buddhism that he wanted to propagate. Today approximately 35% of the population in Japan is Buddhist.
The Buddha in this temple is also known as the Fukuoka Daibutsu, the largest Buddha statue in Fukuoka. Carpenters began working on this wood sculpture in 1988. It took 4 years to complete. The Buddha is almost 11 metres high and weighs 30,000 kilos. The ring engraved in wood, behind the sculpture, is decorated with images of Buddha. Next to the Fukuoka Daibutsu is a space with an exhibit of various artefacts. One of these artefacts is a revolving bookcase filled with holy scriptures. It is said that by turning the bookcase the person receives as much karma as if they had read all of the scriptures in the bookcase.
The Tōchō-ji Temple is a regular stage for various festivals. Every year on 3 February, the Japanese celebrate the Setsubun festival, the last day of winter. The temple is surrounded by stages where masked mythical figures dance and throw beans, candy and rice to ward off evil. From mid-May to early June, there is the Kukai Gekijo festival. During this festival you can attend Japanese tea ceremonies; all participants receive a Japanese tea cup as a souvenir.