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Gifu: Shoboji (Temple) and Gifu Daibutsu

Located in 8 Daibutsu-cho Gifu City in Gifu Prefecture, Shoboji (Temple) is known as the temple which houses one of the three largest Daibutsu or Great Buddha statues in Japan.

Officially named Kinpouzan Shobouji (Temple) and also called Shohoji, Shoboji was first established in 1638. It joined the Obaku school in 1692. Although the temple incorporated many aspects of the Obaku school, its architectural style and sacraments are in the Chinese style. 
Shohoji as seen from the road
Shoboji (Temple)
Buy your ticket here. It's only 200 yen.



Here's what appears to be a tsukubai but could also be a chozubachi or purification font

As was already written, Shoboji houses one of the largest statues of Buddha in Japan. It was the 11th head priest of the temple, Ichyuu (Ichu) who planned for the construction of Gifu's Great Buddha in 1790. Sadly, he never saw the completed Buddha as he passed away in 1815. The Great Buddha was completed in 1832 - 38 years after it was started. 
Shoboji's Daibutsu

A closer look at Shoboji's Great Daibutsu
A miniature model of the Shoboji (temple)
Here's how the roof of the temple looks like.

Unlike the other Daibutsu of Japan which were made from metal, the Gifu Great Buddha was constructed using wood. Its central pillar which serves as its base was made from a large ginkgo tree which measures around 1.8 meters in circumference. The mainframe or the skeletal structure of the Buddha was made from fine wood. While the outer frame was made from weaved high-quality bamboo giving it the nickname "Basket Buddha". The body was then covered with Buddhist sutras collected from different parts of the country. Layers of lacquer were then applied over the sutras before covering it with gilt. 
Mr. Toshi offering a prayer to Shoboji's Great Daibutsu


Upon completion, Gifu's Daibutsu has this specification:
Height = 13.63m
Length of face = 3.63m
Length of ears = 2.12m
Width of eyes = 0.66m
Width of mouth = 1.31m
Height of nose = 0.36m


Visitors checking out the Gohyakuran and the Buddhist carvings
The sculptures are finely carved and are painted with great detail. However, the said paint faded with time.



Aside from the Great Buddha at the center of the temple, visitors would also find smaller figurines lined up at the side of the temple like a crowd watching the Daibutsu at the center. These figures are called Gohyakuran which means disciples of the Great Buddha. It was said that these once numbered around a thousand but many were destroyed by earthquakes leaving only around 500 at present. 
The Gohyakuran on the left side of the temple
The Gohyakuran on the right side of the temple

For those who are planning to visit, keep in mind that there is an entrance fee of 200 yen. Upon paying the said fee, you would receive an English brochure explaining the temple's history.
Here's one sculpture that's quite revered by many. Can someone tell me who he is?

My family and I got to visit Shoboji during our 18th day in Japan. It was our last trip before leaving Gifu City to go back home. During our quick visit, it was only my godfather and me who went to the temple. My wife and daughter decided to stay in the car to rest after using much of their energy during our mini-hike to Gifu Castle. 
The goshuin of Shoboji

Mr. Toshi toured with me inside the temple explaining bits and pieces of the temple's history that were not mentioned in the brochure. He also translated the numerous Japanese words in the temple. Before leaving, I made sure to get a goshuin for my collection. 

Overall, the temple and the Great Buddha might not be as big as that in Todaiji in Nara Prefecture but it is equally rich in history. It is one of the few must-visit temples in Gifu City. 

Getting there:
From Gifu Station or Meitetsu Gifu Station, board a bus going to Nagara. Board down at Gifu Koen, Rekishi Hakubutsukan-mae which is about 15 minutes away from the train station. Shohoji is several meters away and can be reached on foot. 

Ratings:
Pilgrims
Cleanliness
Overall rating

Comments

  1. WOW WOW WOW!!! THis is so incredible!!! It's absolutely breathtaking

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    1. I agree with you Ashli. That's what came to my mind when I saw the giant Buddha (Daibutsu)

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  2. What a lovely temple, it looks like it is full of history!

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    1. Hi Luna! Shoboji is really a historical temple. It's a good place to visit if you're into culture and history.

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  3. It's an amazing place. Would love to visit this temple.

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  4. Interesting piece of history and architecture. Japan is definitely on my list.

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  5. Totally enjoyed the photos and learning more about the temple. Such a rich culture. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for visiting my blog as well. Much appreciated.

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  6. I have to check this out. I been wanting to visit Gifu City as my Japanese teacher has a cafe in that area. Now, I have another place to visit.

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    1. Nice! I do hope you get to visit this temple as well. =) You'd surely love Gifu City.

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  7. Oh wow this is really beautiful. I would love to visit this area of the world!

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    1. You should. =) You would have a lot inspiration for your photos.

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  8. Temples are love! Photos are magical :)

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  9. This just makes me wantt to travel. I wish we could afford a trip there. Maybe one day! Keep sharing posts like this!

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    1. Thanks Mikka. Would sure do. Thank for visiting my blog.

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  10. I love visiting Buddha temples because of the peace and architecture.

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    1. Same here. I love visiting religious buildings because of its beautiful architecture (plus its history).

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  11. I want to experience being at that temple one day

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  12. Such a wonderful Temple. I would love to visit this place someday. Awesome photos!

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    1. Thanks Maysz. =) Please do visit Shoboji when you are in Gifu City.

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  13. Beautiful temple. I would love to visit it someday.

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  14. This looks like an amazing adventure indeed. I have to give you a shout-out on your sidebar visitor counter...love it!

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  15. I love visiting beautiful religious sites when traveling to get a feel for the culture. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I'm happy to hear that Jenn. Please do visit Shoboji when you're in Gifu Pref. =)

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  16. How beautiful! I'd love to be able to travel far one day and see things like this.

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    1. You would, I'm sure of that. I bet you'd love this place.

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  17. Wow! SO Amazing... I hope I can see this in person some day!

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  18. Wow! really appreciate your travel sharing & learnt more about this beautiful temple. thanks for this informative sharing, keeping it for my trip planning. cheers siennylovesdrawing

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    1. You're welcome Sienny! I hope you could visit this place someday!

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  19. Wow, what a beautiful post! Breathtaking photos as well.

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  20. This looks like such a pretty temple - a fun place to visist

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  21. I visited this temple on my last trip to Japan and was fascinated by it all. I would like to go again and take some photos too.

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    1. Wow! I'm happy to hear that there are others who enjoyed their visit to Shoboji as well.

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