Find serenity at the base of a 60-foot Buddha at Hokoji Shrine
We could all use a little serenity right now as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, and if you live and work at Yokota Air Base, the Buddha of Rokuya, or Rokuya Daibutsu, isn’t far from the home of U.S. Forces Japan.
The 60-foot-tall bronze Buddha, about three feet taller than the more famous, much older Buddha in Kamakura, is a 20-minute drive from Yokota’s main gate. A leisurely bike ride gets you there in about 45 minutes.
Located on the grounds of Hokoji, a Buddhist temple in Hinode, the Buddha was unveiled in 2018, partly with hopes of bringing more tourists to the area.
Built on a mountainside, the approach to this giant Buddha is through a bare landscape, with acres of newly planted trees still attached to supporting stakes. Several paths, steep in places, lead from the admission office to the top.
Arriving visitors will turn from the street along the Hirai River onto the street heading uphill along the temple complex. On the right is a parking lot. From here, visitors may backtrack to the entrance of a paved, forested path along which statues point the way to a large gate before the temple.
Built in 1478, Hokoji was erected to convert a Tendai sect temple to the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism, according to the temple’s website.
Continuing along the path leads to Akigawa cemetery, a vast, traditional Japanese burial ground on the bowl-like hillside above. Cresting the steep hill, you’ll see the Buddha across the ravine, looking over the valley.
To reach the Buddha, pay a fee at the admission booth — 300 yen, or about $2.87 for adults, and 100 yen for a child. The helpful staff speaks minimal English.
Winding your way uphill through a small forest of Japanese cedars brings you to Rokuya Daibutsu. Here you will find benches and a modern, motion-sensor fountain for the ritual hand-cleansing upon arrival.
Inside the base of the Buddha, visitors may purchase incense to leave at the 1/10th scale gold-plated version of the bronze monolith sitting above you. Also, prayer ornaments and fortune papers are available for suggested donations of 300 yen.
Vending machines can be found at the rest area near the admission building. Ample free parking and public restrooms are also available.
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DIRECTIONS: Hokoji is a 20-minute drive from the front gate of Yokota Air Base, Japan; the Google GPS code is P7W7+Q4 Hinode, Tokyo
TIMES: The grounds are open daily, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
COSTS: Admission to the Buddha is 300 yen for adults and 100 yen for children.
FOOD: There are vending machines for snacks and drinks on the grounds.