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Zengan-ji Temple in Utsunomiya

A restful temple with a historical Buddha statue

Close to the Tagawa River about ten minutes' walk from JR Utsunomiya station, Zengan-ji is a peaceful Buddhist temple, little-visited compared with the city's main attraction of Futaarayama Shrine.

It's a little out of the way, but you can stop by if you're walking between the station and Utsunomiya-joshi Park, where you can see the remains of the city's former castle.

The main point of interest is a three-and-a-half meter seated Buddha statue cast from copper, dating back to 1735, meditating in the open air on top of a simple stone shrine. An English sign explains how three soybeans helped the local priest raise funds to have the statue cast.

There are some other familiar features to this temple: raked gravel to contemplate and a stone lantern to admire in the garden, more statues in the precinct and graveyard, and a fierce-looking carved wooden dragon, coiled and ready to swoop down from under the eaves of the main worship hall.

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