Tokyo ward known for its otaku culture holds a hidden gem not many people know about.

When you hear the word “Daibutsu” (“Great Buddha”) in Japan, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the Daibutsu in Nara, or the Daibutsu in Kamakura. However, did you know there’s a Daibutsu right in the heart of Tokyo? And this one, unlike the others, is floating in the air?

It’s something that’s gone under the radar for us every time we’ve visited the otaku ‘hood of Ikebukuro, which is better known for its Sega arcade and cosplay events and than it is for its Buddhist culture.

However, once you get off at the station here, you’re just a seven minute walk away from Sengyoji, a temple tucked under a “green building” that’s designed to look like a mountain in the heart of the city.

The building could be easily mistaken for an ordinary commercial complex in Tokyo, but this is the home of Sengyoji, which is also home to…the Ikebukuro Daibutsu.

It seems that we’re now in an era where stopping off to visit a Great Buddha is as easy and as casual as stopping by a cafe, because there’s no long approach to the temple here.

▼ Simply step into the darkness, and the Great Buddha will gradually reveal itself to you.

The sight of a Great Buddha floating in the air is truly one to behold, and it floats beautifully, at a height of around 5.5 metres (18 feet) off the floor. The Buddha itself is approximately 4.6 meters tall, and according to the temple it’s designed to represent the seated figure of Gautama Buddha floating in empty space.

Made entirely of cypress, the body is said to contain 8,461 hand-copied sutras that were presented to the temple.

That’s quite a lot of weight to suspend from the floor, but it’s a feat that’s accomplished elegantly, with the help of two hidden protruding beams that hold it in place on the back wall.

When you stop off to see the Great Buddha of Ikebukuro, you’ll also be able to visit this old-school candy stand on the premises…

…and purchase an unusual type of goshuin seal stamp, priced at 3,000 yen (US24.41), which includes a wooden model of the Buddha surrounded by clouds to make it seem as if it’s floating in the air.

Admission is free, so next time you’re looking for a place to heal your heart in amongst the boys’ love cafes of Ikebukuro, you might want to stop by and view the floating Buddha.

Then you can continue your journey towards enlightenment with a visit to the smallest Great Buddha of Japan, located in Tokyo’s neighbouring Chiba Prefecture.

Temple information
Sengyoji / 仙行寺
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Minamiikebukuro 2-20-4
Hours: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]