A total of sixty-one stone buddhas, dating back to ancient times, sit sculpted into a cliff side—Mt. Rushmore-style—in the city of Usuki. A designated national treasure since 1995, the bewitching appeal of these monoliths intensifies after sunset, when a thousand torches and bonfires are lit in their vicinity for a truly magical spectacle. Out of concern for the soft, vulnerable volcanic rock, man-made shelters now shield them from the worst of nature’s buffeting.
Several factors emphasize just what a stand-out attraction they really are. Buddhist carvings in stone, as opposed to wood or metal, are a rarity in Japan. The identity of their creator and what drove them to create these monuments, more than a millennium ago, remains a mystery. More than anything, however, is the great international appreciation this cultural heritage has earned for the sheer number of figures, their beauty, and the remarkable carving techniques on display.
Located just 40km southeast from the major hot spring resort of Beppu, this ancient treasure is sure to leave you with an indelible impression of Japan’s rich cultural legacy.
6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (April to September)
6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (October to March)
Address: 804-1 Fukata, Usuki City, Oita Prefecture
Airport: Oita Airport
Usuki Sekibutsu Office +81-972-65-3300
(calls taken year-round 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
40 mins by limited express from JR Beppu Station to JR Usuki Station
30 mins by limited express from JR Oita Station to JR Usuki Station
From JR Usuki Station to the Usuki Stone Buddhas
20 mins by taxi
20 mins by transit bus
35 mins by rental bicycle (free rental from Usuki Station).
Adults (High school students and above): 550 yen
Children (Elementary and junior high school students): 270 yen