Gokōshiyui Amidabutu – Kyoto, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Gokōshiyui Amidabutu

This statue of Buddha has a distinctive hairstyle meant to represent an unfathomably long period of meditation. 

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Buddhism is one of the largest religions in Japan, and there are many Buddhist temples across the country. These temples feature many different depictions of Buddha, from the Nyorai Buddha in Aomori to Daibutsuden in Nara and many in between. These many forms represent the various manifestations and aspects of Buddhism. One unique standout is the Gokōshiyui Amidabutu found at Kurodani Temple in Kyoto.

Gokōshiyui Amidabutu roughly translates to “Amida Buddha of Five Kalpa Thought.” In Buddhism, the term kalpa refers to an extremely long period of time. (The length of a kalpa is not set, and can be equivalent to billions or trillions of years depending on the context in which the term is used.) It represents a story from the Sutra of Infinite Life, in which Amida Buddha devoted himself to a long meditation on his 48 vows, with the goal of saving all sentient life.

The statue’s most notable feature is its long hair, which extends out from Buddha’s head. This represents the hair that grew over the course of his long meditation. Because of the distinctive hairstyle, the statue has come to be known as “Afuro Butsuzou,” or “Afro Buddha.” The statue is one of several that have been created of Gokōshiyui Amidabutu. It is carved from rock, likely in the mid-Edo period.

Know Before You Go

The statue is to the left of the stairs up to the temple. 

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