Kannon, a multi-tasking goddess, hears prayers for world peace, atomic bomb victims and homesickness

Kannon, a multi-tasking goddess, hears prayers for world peace, atomic bomb victims and homesickness

Even from a speeding train, the Buddha at Ofuna is impossible to miss. Glowing white she peeks out over the top of a bamboo forest, peaceful and smiling, even on the rainiest of days.

Well, I finally paid her a visit with some friends, following the stream of visitors up the hill past some of the biggest bamboo I’ve ever seen. Paid my 300 yen entrance fee and was surprised to get an English print out.

Kannon, or the Goddess of Mercy of the White Robe, as she is known, stands 25 metres tall. Construction started in 1929, the statue representing wishes for “permanent world peace.” After World War II and the atomic bombing of

A smaller statue of the goddess

A smaller statue of the goddess

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the statue became a place to commemorate the victims. Construction was finally competed in 1960 and contains stones from the ground zero. People now bring strings of paper cranes to adorn the shrine. Though I didn’t see it, Wikipedia now tells me a fire somehow carried from one of the bombed cities still burns in a mushroom-shaped statue.

By extension of the world peace mandate of Kannon, she’s supposed to instill foreigners to Japan with a sense of comfort. This makes here, unofficially, the goddess of homesickness.

The grounds are beautiful, though the view of Ofuna is mediocre. Looking out through the main gates of the shrine you see a massive department store-sized pachinko parlour. It’s no wonder the the Goddess of the White Robe has her eyes closed. Somehow world peace and salary men gambling away their pay just don’t quite mix.

Kannon overlooks Ofuna

Kannon overlooks Ofuna

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