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Récord: 40 m
Localización: Kitakanbara, Niigata
Descripción:Strange Japanese Hot Spring With Sculpture Garden
"What could this strange place possibly be?" is what passersby think when seeing this bizarre forty-meter-high statue on a small country road that parallels the coastline between Shibata and Murakami, Niigata Pref. The gigantic, rough concrete sculpture of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Shin Buddhism, is visible from miles away in all directions: the statue, as tall as many ten-story buildings, also looks down on bathers in the outdoor bath in the back.
The name of this unusual place is Saihounoyu (西方の湯）.
I had driven passed it several times before noticing the kanji for Japanese hot spring, onsen, (温泉) on a small sign. Despite my wife's reluctance, I decided to turn in and investigate (Being a hotspring addict, I couldn't control myself). My first impression was of dilapidation. Scattered around the front are aged-building materials, pieces of old machinery, and a weedy garden. Perhaps, money had run out before a grandiose building plan could come to fruition.
I paid my five hundred yen at the front counter and looked
around. A wide lobby with a high roof was full of items for sale: hand carved wooden chairs and tables, ceramic sculptures, tea and sake cups, old lunch boxes, used games, and hundreds of other eclectic items. The building interior looked as if it had been designed for a hotel or restaurant, but it now resembled a used-goods store. The clerk told me, though, that the building was originally designed for hot spring purposes. However, the room with baths was about fifty meters in the back. Walking down the long hallway, I enjoyed looking at hundreds of dusty but beautifully painted and probably very expensive Buddhist images in frames on the left wall. On the right were small rooms. The walls of one room were lined with sports trophies. Another room was stocked with paintings of all genres on the walls and floors. I spotted a copy of the Mona Lisa and a framed cartoon under a display case of Buddhist sculptures.
After my wide-eyed stroll through the hallway, I finally came to the indoor bathroom and was amazed to see ceramic artworks in and around the indoor bath. Sculptures were also scattered around the outdoor bath and the greenery in the outside garden.
Inserción: 2014-02-04 12:58:17
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