Beyond the Nio-mon Gate at the top of the stairs stands the Kannon Hall, where a secret statue of Buddha resides

Nio-mon Gate of Ozen-ji Temple built at the top of the stairs

Nio-mon Gate of Ozen-ji Temple built at the top of the stairs

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At the end of a approach that looks like a dirt road running between rice paddies, there are stairs that lead up to a gate. Passing through the gate and going up the stairs, one comes to an old-fashioned hall. It is the Kannon Hall of Ozen-ji Temple. In this hall, a statue of the Bodhisattva of the Holy Kannon, built in 1608, is enshrined.

Although Ozen-ji Temple observes "Kannon Day" on the 17th of each month and opens the Kannon Hall, the statue can only be viewed during the period when the hall is open to the public, which is once every 12 years. In other words, it is a hidden Buddha that can only be seen once every 12 years. I came to the temple on a normal day, neither the year nor the day of the opening. The doors of the Kannon Hall remained firmly closed, and I could not even catch a glimpse of the interior, let alone the statue of the hidden Buddha statue.

I thought that the more people see a Buddha statue, the more it will help to save people, but that seems to be a layman's idea. According to the Encyclopedia of Japan, there are several reasons why a statue is considered to be a secret Buddha, such as when it is hidden from the public because of its spiritual significance when it is too grotesque or erotic for the public to see, or when it is damaged in a disaster and cannot be shown to the public. The statue may be damaged by a disaster or other reasons, making it impossible to display to the public.

The statue of Kannon at Ozen-ji Temple is not damaged or obscene, as it is unveiled once every 12 years. It is a pattern of deliberately hiding the statue to create a sense of specialness. Although it may sound a bit disgusting to write that the statues are staged, it is certainly more gratifying to be able to see them only once every 12 years than to be able to see them every day.

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Shooting Date

Mar 2022

Posted On

May 18, 2022


Kawasaki, Kanagawa


Street Photography





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