The temple built by Buddhist monk Kukai is Japan’s oldest
10 minutes away from Hakata Station on foot, Tocho-ji was built in 806 by the monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi) as the head temple for the Shingon sect in Kyushu. It is also the oldest Shingon temple of the area. It was initially located by the sea, but it was moved to its current location by the leader of the Fukuoka clan, Tadayuki Kuroda, and became the family temple for the Kurodas. The Rokkaku-do, which was built in 1842, is a civic cultural property in which is enshrined a hexagonal Buddha statue known as Zushi which can rotate. It is open to the public only on the 28th day of every month. Also, the 87cm-tall Senju Kannon Bosatsu at the temple storehouse is a wooden statue from the Heian Era which has been designated as a National Treasure which can only be viewed once a year on March 21st. The 5-floor pagoda which was completed in 2011 is a relatively new structure so its wooden construction is extremely beautiful. In the bowl-shaped part of the finial immediately above the 5th-floor tiles, it is said that it contains the busshari, or the ashes of the Buddha, that Kukai had brought back with him.
The Fukuoka Daibutsu, Japan’s largest wooden seated Buddha statue, and The Pilgrimage of Heaven and Hell
The Fukuoka Daibutsu which is enshrined in the Great Buddha Hall on the 2nd floor is Japan’s largest wooden seated Buddha statue at a height of 10.8 meters and a weight of 30 tonnes. The statue took 4 years to complete starting from 1988. The 16.1m-tall Ring of Light behind the statue consists of many carved images of Buddha, and behind it, there are 5000 little Buddha enshrined as well. Below the seat of the Daibutsu, there is the Pilgrimage of Heaven and Hell, and in front of the relief of the picture scroll of Hell, there is a pitch-black corridor that is so dark that you cannot even see your own hand. You have to hold onto the handrail to be able to proceed, and if you can feel the Ring of Buddha which is in the middle of the corridor, then it is said that you can reach the Promised Land. Proceeding through the darkness, at the exit, you will come across the picture of Heaven. There is a deep meaning evoked in that even in the middle of such darkness, with the help of Buddha’s guiding path (the handrail), you will be able to reach Heaven.