“Every time I come here, I ask the Lord to destroy this statue before I die.” One missionary once told us this when he visited Kamakura. Almost 800 years ago in Kamakura, a temple casted a giant bronze Buddha called the Daibutsu. This 44-foot statue sits in a large courtyard, with an offering table, incense case, and money box in front of it. The sounds of clinking money breaks the sounds of the wind rustling the leaves and the low murmur of people chatting around the courtyard.
Most who come to the Buddha, drop change in a box, put their hands together in front of their face, bow their head, and say a prayer. In recent visits, whether for zeal, desire, or desperation, both, we have seen men and women have taken the prayers a step further (as shown in the video).
Daily, offerings of fruit and drink are placed before the statue. People kneel before a bronze statue and pray to the gods for help. This is idolatry. For less than 10 cents, you can go around the back and enter the statue. Inside you discover a hollowed-out cavern. The Buddha is an object with no life. We too pray that someday soon, this statue will be dismantled. We pray that the hearts of the people will turn towards God and the temple will be torn down.
In the meantime, we are thankful for the temple and statue. God has used this giant bronze statue to touch and change the hearts of many people towards the people of Japan. Some of them, myself included, have come back to Japan to serve as missionaries.
Missions in Japan
Learn about Japanese culture, ministry, and some fascinating experiences along the way!
Andrew and Janae Gonnerman are church planters serving in Tama, Japan.