After meeting up with my friend Y at Tokyo Station and taking the hour or so bus ride from there to Tsukuba Station, my friend K picked us up and took us to our first destination, the Ushiku Daibutsu or Giant Buddha Statue. On our way there, we got to drive through the peaceful countryside. [Pictures taken September 23, 2013]
There’s so much space in Ibaraki! I really loved it. A house here, a house there, but not very crowded.
We finally neared the statue, and I was able to take the picture I’d been inspired to take after seeing the photos posted on Tokyo Times. I like the descriptions on that page, too. What else are you supposed to say? I think just, “wow, that’s…big.”
The Ushiku Daibutsu is a huge Buddha statue in Ibaraki. (“Ushiku” is the name of the city.) It took ten years to build, and it’s the largest Buddha statue in Japan (not in the world–apparently, that’s in China). Wikipedia says it’s 394 feet tall 0_0 There’s a museum inside, with Buddha statues and artwork, and you can take an elevator to the top and see the view from Buddha’s chest. If you want to see exactly everything that’s inside, you can check out this page here.
My friend and I thought it was part crazy, part ominous, I suppose, haha. Even though you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s this huge Buddha… I didn’t get a picture of it (there are some here), but there were graveyards all around the Buddha (outside of the main tourism walking areas). In Japan, graveyards are usually found on the premises of a temple, kind of the way graveyards (used to be?) in front of or around a church (none of the churches I’ve ever gone to have had a graveyard out front–that’s why I say that). I didn’t see a temple on the grounds, but maybe the Buddha statue makes it a desirable spot…?
There’s more to do there than just see the statue and visit the museum, though. It turns out there’s a whole petting zoo out back, with bunnies, a goat, sheep, and these strange little puppy-sized pigs on leashes, among other things^^; There’s a man there who does a show involving a monkey riding a wild boar. It’s Baby Monkey on a Pig in real life! :O
Even when you’re playing with the animals out back, though, if you look behind you, you can always see the Buddha looming up behind you…it was creeping my friend out (haha).
It’s not only the daibutsu that’s huge, though. They had this monster rabbit out back, separate from the “regular” ones. I tried to put my foot near it for size to show you how big this thing was. It was like the size of three normal rabbits…and it was my favorite animal there^^
We visited the garden on our way back out. I’d picked the soonest date possible to see my friend once I got back to Japan without really considering the seasons, so I didn’t get to see the fall colors or the spring flowers, but there were still plenty of blooming flowers for us to see.
We left the Daibutsu and went to コートダジュール (Cote d’Azur) in Tsukuba to get some gelato! I didn’t take that many pictures–I think I was happy to hang out with my friends and just wasn’t bothered to take pictures of every single detail of every shop like I usually do^^; Also, all three of us had cameras, so if we took a picture together, taking it three times with three different cameras just felt like too much (the shop looks like this, though!) The display in the front glass window was decorated with adorable Halloween figures (like pumpkins), and there was a lot to see inside too, but we went straight for the ice cream, which is in a slightly separate part of the store.
When I left Waki, it was still pretty warm, but it was cold in Ibaraki on this day, to the point where I had my sweatshirt on and we all went to a 7-11 after ice cream to buy hot drinks to help us warm up. On the other hand, it wasn’t cold enough to keep the ice cream we bought from melting before we could eat it >.>
We finally spent some time sitting around at a park my friend likes. There’s so much grass/lawn in Ibaraki! I’m not used to there being grass everywhere in Waki, Iwakuni, or anywhere else nearby. We finished by eating at bin cho, a delicious local yakiniku (grilled chicken) place. If you visit Ibaraki, it’s definitely worth it to go there!
Song of the Day: James Bond Theme