It’s so massive that from certain angles it looks like Japan is under attack by a giant alien life-form.

Japan has a lot of giant statues. There’s the Gundam statue in Odaiba, of course, but I’m mainly talking about more traditional sculptures like big Buddhas and tall Kannons. Thanks to the major role that Buddhism has played throughout Japanese history, giant statues revering Buddha and his compassionate Bodhisattvas can be seen standing guard over the land at various locations across Japan.

Well, perhaps for some it’s better to say they can be seen looming over the land.

There’s one in a town called Nakayama, in Sendai City, northeast of Tokyo that is so big that you can even see its head sticking up over the cityscape from miles away, which might come as a bit of a shock if you didn’t already know it was there.

▼ See that little white thing poking up wayyy in the back?

It’s the Sendai Daikannon. Built in 1991, it’s the tallest Kannon statue in the world at 330 feet (100 meters). It is also the tallest goddess statue in Japan, and the sixth tallest statue in the world. Standing right in front of it, it’s tall, but not really scary.

But travel a little into the town and you might find it to be a little eerie. Even from as far as one kilometer away, it looms over the town, sometimes from what looks like above the cloud line, like an ominous fallen angel that appeared in the horizon out of nowhere.

When the weather is good, she looks like an angelic Godzilla about to rampage the city. I shudder to wonder what it must be like to see her in the rain.

▼ We’d like to see a Godzilla vs. Kannon movie, actually.

Kannon herself is a Bodhisattva, a being who attained Nirvana but stayed behind out of compassion for those who are still suffering, so she is actually a kind and benevolent presence.

This particular statue has also been intentionally designed in several ways to bring good fortune to those who gaze upon it. The dragon mouth entrance at her feet is meant to represent the path to success (by climbing up a dragon’s back), while the overturned decanter in her left hand pours wisdom over the people. The round gem she holds in her right hand, a defining trait of this particular Kannon, grants the wishes of the people. As you can see, it’s meant to be a very auspicious statue.

The interior is actually quite beautiful, too; it’s composed of 13 floors and is packed with stunning monuments and Buddhist relics. Visitors can ride to the top floor of this lavishly decorated tower in an elevator to look out over stunning views of the town.

Nevertheless, when seen from the ground at certain angles within the town, it’s still a pretty startling statue. In the fuzzy light of dawn, its presence as a dark shadow in the sky is really quite menacing. Sometimes it seems to be slowly crashing through buildings like the largest Titan in Attack on Titan, or looks like it’s taking a leisurely giant’s stroll through the streets.

▼ “Mornin’, Bill! How’s your wife?”

It really almost looks like a giant robot from outer space that could destroy the town with laser blasters!

Of course, it’s not the only unnerving contemporary Buddhist statue in Japan. Here’s another Kannon in Takasaki, northwest of Tokyo. The upward illumination gives this one a particularly eerie vibe.

And this is Ushiku Daibutsu in Ibaraki, east of Tokyo, which looks to be engaged in an inspection of the surrounding lands.

I’ve gotta say, though, Sendai Daikannon takes the cake. Perhaps its imposing figure is thanks to its modern, 1990s onstruction. Its pure whiteness sure gives it that extra surreal feel.

If you want to brave the wrath of the Sendai Daikannon–I mean, pray to her and check out the building’s cool interior–try going on the 18th of any month, as that’s Kannon’s Day of Blessing. They have a monthly Buddhist sermon at Sendai Daikonnan at 11:30 a.m., followed by a Buddhist rite of burning sticks at 12 p.m. Perhaps if you pray to Kannon on this day, you’ll get some extra good fortune, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll spare the city from the wrath of the underworld.

Temple information
Daikanmitsuji Temple, Sendai Daikannon / 大観密寺 仙台大観音
Miyagi-ken Sendai-shi Izumi-ku Sanezawa Nakayam-Minami 31-36
宮城県仙台市泉区実沢中山南31番地36
Entry fee: 500 yen
Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (May 1-October 31), 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (November 1-April 30)
Website

Source: Twitter/@CybershotTad
Featured image: Twitter/@kei_yamm