Ushiku Daibutsu is a statue of Buddha, located in Ushiku Ibaraki, Japan. Completed in 1993, this statue stands at 120 meters (including a base and lotus platform), making it one of the tallest in the world. In 1995, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized this statue as the tallest standing Buddha in the world. Currently, it is the third biggest in the world.
On my way back from the coast, my friends and I stopped by Ushiku to see what all the fuss was about. When we first spotted the Buddha, we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was huge!! Even from miles away, we could clearly see the Buddha over the surrounding trees. When we arrived, we parked our cars in the free parking lot, and paid ￥800 to enter the park and go inside the Buddha.
When you enter the park, you will see a purity fountain, which is called Tsukubai. Visitors of Buddhist temples use the tsukubai to purify themselves by washing their hands and mouth. Tsukubai are often made of stone with water streaming out of bamboo pipes, called kakei. To purify yourself, wash your left hand, then right, then put fresh water in your mouth and spit out on the side of the tsukubai.
When entering, there is a money box where you can pray
On the other side, you will see the gigantic statue. The Ushiku Daibutsu is the tallest standing Buddha in Japan.
- Weight: 4,000t
- Head: 20m
- Palm of Left Hand: 18m
- Index Finger: 7m
- Ear: 10m
This is the real size of one of the Buddha’s toes. His toe alone is taller than 5 feet.
Here we can see the progression of the Buddha.
There are 5 different floors to the Buddha. The First Floor represents the World of Infinite Light and Life.
The Second Floor represents the World of Gratitude and Thankfulness: There is a room where you can sit and copy the sutra for Amitabha Buddha.
The Third Floor represents the World of the Lotus Sanctuary: this room represents the pure land. This room was beautiful! It’s filled with 3,300 golden images of Buddha.
The Fifth Floor is the Room of Mt. Grdhrakuta. Mt. Grdhrakuta is the name of the Indian Place remembered in connection with Buddha. There are 4 windows facing each direction, so you can check out the view from 80m up.
Surrounding the Buddha on the ground floor is an animal park (where children can feed different animals), a pond with fish and a huge flower garden.
Hitachinaka Seaside Park is located in Hitachinaka, on the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture. The park is a little bigger than 8 acres, with a small amusement park at the entrance and the rest of the park covered in beautiful flowers. The flowers are constantly changing throughout the year. When the flowers are out of season they are removed, and new species of flowers are planted into the ground. The entrance fee is about ￥400, but it was totally worth it.
Walking around the park, there are pathways that take you into a tunnel of trees. Other than all the bugs flying around, it was very relaxing and it gave us a nice break from the burning sun.
The highlight of the park is the giant hill that is covered in flowers. This spring, the hill was covered in a sea of blue. It was a remarkable sight and my pictures don’t do it justice.
These flowers come in all different colors. Among the blue flowers, white and orange flowers could be spotted randomly on the hill. I later discovered a patch of purple flowers, which were bright and beautiful.
On the opposite side of the park, there is a rose garden. Roses in Japan seem to be a lot fluffier in Japan. I often spotted roses that appeared to have more than one bud blooming together, to create one giant rose. You can see an example in the second picture.
This park was BEAUTIFUL!! I will definitely be visiting it again during a different season.
What is Golden Week? Golden Week consists of 4 National Holidays within 7 days: Emperor Showa’s birthday, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children’s Day. For me, Golden Week means I get to have a 4 day weekend to explore Japan and see my friends. Other than eating food, my friends and I went and explored different parts of Tokyo.
SHIBUYA: Shibuya is one of the major shopping and entertainment districts in Tokyo and it is home to one of the busiest intersections in the world! Its really crazy how many people cross this intersection at one time.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT BUILDING: If you’re ever in Tokyo, you should head to Shinjuku to go to the Metropolitan Government Building. It’s free to go to the top of both towers, and the view from the top is spectacular!!We went up the building at night, and there were lights as far as my eyes could see!
IMPERIAL PALACE: is located in the heart of Tokyo! In the middle of all the tall buildings is the home to the Imperial Family. We didn’t have much time, so we only explored the outside of the Imperial Palace. Here are a few photos I took when we were walking around.
What is Golden Week? Golden Week consists of 4 National Holidays within 7 days: Emperor Showa’s birthday, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children’s Day. For me, Golden Week means I get to have a 4 day weekend to explore Japan and see my friends. I spent the holiday with my boyfriend eating lots of food.Ever since I got to Japan, I have been eating a lot of seafood! I have fish on a weekly basis now, so I definitely had to try eating raw fish.
We waited an hour for this Tonkotsu Ramen and it was definitely worth the wait!!! I wish I had an endless pit for a stomach so I could eat this ramen all day!!
Yum Yum Yum, Yakiniku!!! The meat we had was such great quality that the meat broke apart easily. This was one of my favorite meals. If it weren’t so expensive, I would definitely eat it more often.Can’t live in Japan without eating some Katsu!! The katsu we had was cooked to perfection. The crust was light and fluffy, while the meat was soft and juicy. Our katsu came with soup, unlimited salad, kimchee, pickled garlic, and pickled daikon. I was stuffed by the time we finished our meal.Being a ramen lover, we had to have ramen one last time before the break ended. We went to Tokyo Station, where then have some of the best ramen shops in Japan. There were lines for almost every ramen restaurant in the station. We decided to try Shouyu Ramen since we had Tonkotsu the other day. It was delicious and worth the wait.
There’s nothing like ending the break with a Fresh Mango Parfait with Mango Sorbet, Vanilla Ice Cream and Raspberry sauce!
Some of my fellow ALTs from training and I met up at Yoyogi Park to go to a Rainbow Pride Festival. We wandered around the park for a long time and found the festival after walking around for an hour. There were rainbows everywhere, lots of food, free wine AND….
…some interesting characters!!
The highlight of my day was when we got stopped by some university students that knew how to speak English. They were so friendly and curious about where we came from. Most of them are leaving in September to go abroad and study English. We ended up spending the day together and they took us to an awesome sushi restaurant in Shibuya. We ate and chatted up a storm until it got pretty late. We plan to do some language exchanges before they jet off to study abroad. Heres a picture of the ALTs + University students:
My roommate from training had her birthday last week, and she wanted to celebrate by hiking Mt. Tsukuba. At the bottom of the mountain we discovered a beautiful pond surrounded by trees, a huge shrine and a wall covered in wishes. It was a lovely surprise to see these at the beginning of our hike.
The Hike: The hike wasn’t super long, distance wise, but it was exhausting. The first half of the hike was walking up stairs. Yes, someone took the time to install wood and concrete stairs from the bottom to the half way mark. The second half of the hike was climbing up rocks.
I thought this was worth sharing. The rock on the top was hardly being held up and it looked like it could roll off the other rocks at any time.
After a long journey, we finally made it to the top! Even though it was sunny out, it was freezing at the top and there was snow on the ground. This is a panoramic shot from the top. If it weren’t so smoggy, we could have seen Tokyo and Sky Tree from the top.
Hanami, which means viewing flowers, is an important Japanese custom that is held all over the country in the Spring. Hanami generally is the term used for viewing Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) when they come into full bloom between March and May. Cities nationwide forecast when the flowers will bloom and host a festival to celebrate their beauty.
A couple of other ALTs and I heard about a Cherry Blossom Festival that was going on in Hitachi, which is on the coast of Ibaraki. We took a day trip over to check it out. When we got there, we were disappointed to find out that the sakura bloomed early this year and were completely gone.
On the bright side, we got to see a massive 5 ton float that puppets came out of and moved to music.
We also got to watch people play Taiko Drums, while men and women did traditional dances to the beat. I was amazed by the women dancing in geta slippers, which are elevated by 2 thin wooden bases. I’ve tried walking in those before and it is not easy! For them to be dancing in them is incredible! After they completed their dance, hundreds of students started dancing and parading down the street.
After watching all the dancing, we got hungry so we decided to hunt down some food, which was not a difficult task. Along both sides of the street were hundreds of food vendors that had Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), yakitori (sauteed chicken on a stick), takoyaki (mochi balls with octopus inside), yakisoba and more! The food was delicious and extremely cheap! Even though there were no Sakura, I still had a great time at my first Japanese festival.
This next picture was taken inside the Hitachi train station. I thought I would throw it in because the view was stunning!