The Ushiku Daibutsu, a 120 metre tall bronze figure of Buddha, is the tallest statue in Japan and third tallest in the world. Despite only being just over an hour away from Tokyo station, it is little known as a tourist destination.

This is probably due to the out of the way location, a bus ride away from the remote Ushiku station in Ibaraki Prefecture.

However, the spectacular sight of the towering deity is well worth the detour.

As awesome as the statue is from the outside, the inside is a completely different world. Upon entering you are given a plastic bag to put your shoes in. Traversing through dimly lit rooms in your socks, contemplating Buddhist art while inhaling the smell of incense, even the most earthly of us will start to feel spiritual.

Guests can ascend to the observatory room via elevator where you can take in a breathtaking view of Ibaraki prefecture. You can even see the Tokyo sky tree in the distance on a clear day.

The surrounding area is home to beautiful gardens. Various flowers bloom throughout the year (link in Japanese only), from cherry blossoms in the spring to cosmos in October.

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In summer and for the New Year countdown, visitors are treated to fireworks and a light show.

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There is also a petting zoo for some reason, so you can frolic with rabbits and other small animals in the shadow of the gigantic, benevolent daibutsu.

It takes 40 minutes from Nippori station to Ushiku station on the JR Joban line and costs 970 yen. A bus departs from the station’s east exit and takes about 30 minutes to Ushiku Daibutsu bus stop.

If you’re sick of the usual Tokyo tourist spots, this day trip is a cheap and easy way to escape the city!

By - grape Japan editorial staff.