Kamakura Buddha to Get First Full Check in Over 50 Years

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Kamakura Buddha to Get First Full Check in Over 50 Years

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, which will undergo full-scale maintenance work. Photo Credit: Washington Post/The Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO:  The Great Buddha of Kamakura, a colossal copper image of Amitabha Buddha in Kamakura, will undergo full-scale maintenance work from Jan. 13 to March 10. Visitors will not be able to view the statue, which is designated a national treasure, during that period.

According to Takao Sato, the chief monk of Kotokuin temple where the Great Buddha is enshrined as its principal image, the full-scale maintenance will be the first since the "major Showa [era] restoration," undertaken from 1959 to 1961.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is believed to have been cast in the 13th century and stands 13.4 meters (44 feet) tall including the base.

Because of its outdoor location, the Great Buddha has recently deteriorated severely, becoming rusted by sea breezes, acid rain and bird droppings. It was decided that state-aided maintenance work, conducted as part of the conservation of cultural properties, would start after the New Year period to reduce the impact on visitors and shops around the temple.

According to Masayuki Morii, a senior researcher of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques - one of the core departments of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo - ultrasonic waves will be used to remove the rust, which is otherwise likely to spread.

The maintenance project team will also examine the statue's quake-absorbing system, built during the Showa restoration, and consider whether newer measures are needed.

"During the work, we'll collect basic data useful for periodic maintenance. It will be the first checkup of the Great Buddha in half a century," Morii said.

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