Thursday, 26th November 2015
In General Japan News,
Japanese fans visit Buddhist shrine resembling rugby star
Fans of Japanese rugby have been flocking to the Seki Zenkoji Temple in Nagano in Gifu Prefecture to see a Buddhist statue they believe resembles one of the national team’s players.
Ayumu Goromaru was among the sportsmen who helped Japan beat South Africa 34-32 in the biggest upset of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
He says his now famous kicking style was inspired by Jonny Wilkinson, as he attended a coaching session run by the former England international more than ten years ago.
Fans in Japan believe its origins are much closer to home, however, as a statue in a temple appears to be displaying the same trigger pose.
Since the World Cup, there has been an upsurge in visitors to the temple in central Japan, with many being young rugby fans.
Shunkai Sato, the chief priest, told Agence France-Press: “At weekends, more than 1,000 people pay homage a day.”
He added that he never imagined the three-metre-tall statue of Dainichi Nyorai would come to be worshipped by rugby fans.
While many Buddhist statues show hands that have been arranged into religious gestures, this particular one is very rare.
The index fingers are pointing up, as if creating a church steeple, in a similar way to Goromaru when he is preparing to kick.
It is thought that the statue was originally cast in China around 500 years ago and the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports it was brought to Japan about 100 years ago.
Goromaru suddenly became a household name in Japan when he scored 24 points against the Springboks in Japan’s first game of the tournament.
The full-back is set to leave Japan in February and head to Australia to play for the Queensland Reds.
In the meantime, his nation’s fans will have to make do with the statue to remember their sporting hero.
Related news stories:
Viability of Buddhist temples 'in doubt' (3rd September 2008)