Sendai Daikannon - One of the world's top ten tallest statues
The city of Sendai is famous for being the gate to Tohoku and having been founded by Date Masamune. Bright lights, big city, shopping, night life, great food.
But another, much lesser known sight of Sendai city is the Daikannon, Japan's highest statue of a goddess and actually the 6th tallest statue in the world, reaching as high as 100 meters (328 feet). It is a stunning sight, a white guardian, towering and watching over Izumi ward.
Kannon is the Japanese name for the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion (Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit), which has been venerated in Japan since the late 6th century. Usually depicted as a goddess, Kannon is actually considered genderless and you can find a variety of versions of her, standing or sitting in a lotus. The name "Kannon" is often translated as "One who sees/hears all" and refers to her compassionately witnessing and listening to the prayers of those in need and helping them to achieve salvation.
The statue in the Izumi ward of Sendai was completed in 1991 and its interior is divided into 12 stories. It takes around 35 minutes on the Sendai Municipal Bus from JR Sendai Station (Take the West Exit, bus stop number 14) to reach the Daikannon-mae stop from which you can easily walk to the statue.
The entrance is through a dragon's mouth at the base of the enormous statue, where you can also find a small area to pray and make a wish. There is an admission fee of 500 Yen, which is not really considered an admission fee but rather a small charge for a talisman, an o-mamori.
On the ground floor you can find 33 statues depicting Kannon's 33 different forms. The actual Daikannon is a Nyoirin Kannon form, holding a jewel in her right hand, which grants wishes, and a water flask in her left hand, pouring out water of wisdom. Apart from the 33 smaller Kannon statues, you can also find sculptures of 12 guardian deities who each represent one Chinese zodiac sign.
You can get to the top floor by either using the elevator on the second floor, where you can also find a small door leading you outside, on top of the dragon's head, or you can take the stairs that lead you past the 108 Buddha statues, each representing one of mankind's earthly passions.
On the top floor there is a prayer area and multiple windows that give you a stunning view over Sendai city. It is said that you can see the Pacific Ocean on a clear day, but we were not lucky enough when we visited.
I would recommend this sight to anyone visiting Sendai; the sight of the pure white goddess towering over the city is just breathtaking and should not be missed!