16 Statues of Buddha built in Yuza over 150 years ago.
When fishers are losing their lives out at sea at an alarming frequency, and the unstable Shogunate is causing strife amongst the townspeople, what is a temple priest to do?
Travel north along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Shonai area to the town of Yuza, in the north-western part of Yamagata Prefecture, and you will come across 16 Statues of Buddha, built there over 150 years ago to combat such calamities.
Accessible year-round, although may be difficult to access during the winter due to snow and stormy seas.
Nishidate Fukura, Yuza, Akumi District, Yamagata 999-8521
The History of the Buddha Statues of Yuza
In 1866 the Shonai region was afflicted by a string of tragedies at sea bringing grief and fear to the people who relied heavily on the sea for food and trade. In response to this, Kankai Ishikawa, the 21st head priest of Fukura Kaizen Temple, commissioned the Statues of Buddha to pray for good fortune, to ward off calamity, and bring safety out at sea, and in memory of those who had already lost their lives in the Sea of Japan. It took a stonemason five years to carve the Statues of Buddha out of the volcanic rock from Mt. Chokai that lies on the coast.
In 1871, seeing the Statues of Buddha complete with his own eyes, Kankai is said to have thrown himself into the ocean where he reached the state of Nirvana. The weathered statues continue to watch the coastline and seas today.
The 16 Buddha Statues From Above
The stone statues themselves are carved out of the volcanic shoreline that is located along the coastline in the town of Yuza. They are concentrated in a very small area which makes them enjoyable to even elderly visitors.
150 years of storms and elements have weathered these statues so you may need to carefully observe the various shapes of the volcanic rock to spot the stoic faces of these buddha, some are especially weathered so finding all 16 may prove to be a challenge.
You will also find various offerings to these buddha from the people of Shonai. Notably, you can find piles of coins at the base of these buddha. Some of these coins were placed here decades ago and have degraded into the rocks themselves.
This location is also a great place to enjoy the sunset over the Sea of Japan making it a great place to end your day along the coast!
There is also a hot spring facility right nearby. You can find the address here:
Nishinohama-2-70 Fukura, Yuza-machi, Akumi-gun, Yamagata-ken 999-8521
Park your car in the parking lot by the small café/ restaurant and souvenir stand. Take the path to the right of the building and across a bridge over the road you just traveled on. There is a small clearing here with descriptive plaques, and a little canopy to have a break in the shade, the short but steep path to the Statues of Buddha is just off here.
Here is the address of the parking lot.
Nishidate-7-30 Fukura, Yuza, Akumi District, Yamagata 999-8521