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"Magaibutsu" Buddhist figures, in Usuki City, Oita Prefecture, are designated as national treasures.

It has not determined yet though, from the style of the figures, they are thought to be carved in the late Heian period, in the 11th century. I would say that this area was a venue for ascetic practices of mountain priests, because Mountain Buddhism was in golden time here at that time. As they had been abandoned for about 1,000 years since, the head of most figures had peeled off due to weathering. The authorities started to tackle full-scale restoration work of these damaged figures to be designated as national treasures, thus the heads were back to the original state. These figures are divided into four groups based on the place they stand together. Each group features its own main figure, the largest one in the center, being attended by many apprentices. Among so many figures, big and small, some 69 of them are designated as national treasures.

Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.



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