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WOW! JAPAN

Japan has a great variety of peculiar buildings, astonishing statues, and many other interesting and rather strange locations. This article will show you some unusual spots that even the Japanese are amazed by!

1. Osaka City Environment Bureau Maishima Incineration Plant (Osaka)

The Maishima Incineration Plant is a very colorful building located in Osaka and managed by the city’s Environment Bureau. This eye-catching facility – which looks nothing like a place where everyone's garbage is taken to be incinerated – was designed by the visionary Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser under the concept of “harmony among art, ecology, and technology.” The yellow and red stripes on the walls were inspired by the flames that burn the waste. Visits to the plant are available free of charge but require advance reservation. (Reservations are granted in order of arrival.)

Entrance fee: Free
Access: Board city bus 81 for Maishima Sports Island from Nishikujo Station on the JR Loop Line; disembark at Konohana Ohashi Nishizume bus stop

1. Osaka City Environment Bureau Maishima Incineration Plant (Osaka)

1-2-48 Hokuko Shiratsu, Konohana-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

2. Mt. Hoju Daikannonji Temple (Mie)

Dedicated to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, Mt. Hoju Daikannonji Temple is a Buddhist temple that grants blessings for better fortune, perpetual youth and longevity, and protection from evil. The highlight of this beautiful temple has got to be the golden statue of Namukaiun Hoju Daikanzeon Bosatsu. Measuring astonishing 33m in height, this is the world’s tallest Kannon statue made in gold. This splendid Kannon statue is surrounded by small images of Buddha and it is said that if you walk around the statue while touching their hands you will be blessed. Also, don’t miss the very curious statue of Kannon singing karaoke!

Entrance fee: general 800 JPY, children (elementary and junior high school students) 400 JPY
Access: 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Sakakibara-onsenguchi Station

2. Mt. Hoju Daikannonji Temple (Mie)

1957 Sada, Hakusan-cho, Tsu-shi, Mie

3. The Peeing Boy (Tokushima)

In the beautiful Iya Valley where the emerald green waters of the Iya River flow, you’ll find the statue of the Peeing Boy. Deep in the hinterland surrounded by mountains, the statue lies on the tip of a cliff 200m above the valley floor. The rock where the statue is situated was left here more than 50 years ago during the construction of the Iya Highway. According to anecdotes of the time, construction workers and local children used to stand on top of the massive rock to test their courage, and that’s why the Peeing Boy was placed there. The best time of the year to visit the place is during May when the trees are at their freshest green, and during the season when the mountains are covered in Autumn leaves. Use public transportation to visit the location because there are no parking lots in the area.

Entrance fee: Free
Access: Board the Shikoku Kotsu Bus for Kazura-bashi from JR Awa-Ikeda Station; disembark at Iya Onsen-mae and walk 5 minutes

3. The Peeing Boy (Tokushima)

Matsuo Matsumoto, Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima

4. Hanibe Gankutsuin (Ishikawa)

Hanibe Gankutsuin is an eerie place constructed inside a cave left by an old quarry. A 15m high statue of Buddha Shakyamuni will catch your eyes right at the entrance for this unusual Buddhist temple. Right under this giant Buddha’s head – which was built as a wish for world peace – you’ll find a service hall dedicated memorial services for miscarried and aborted fetuses. Going deep further you’ll encounter the statues of two Deva Kings guarding the entrance to the cave where a large collection of Buddha statues are kept. This frightening scenery is said to represent what hell looks like!

Entrance fee: general 800 JPY, children (elementary, junior high and high school students) 500 JPY
Access: Board the Komatsu Bus for Hanibe from JR Komatsu Station; disembark at Hanibe-mae

4. Hanibe Gankutsuin (Ishikawa)

1 Ryumyoji-machi, Komatsu-shi, Ishikawa

5. Yoshimi Hyakuana (Saitama)

Yoshimi Hyakuana is a national historic park home to the largest cluster of tunnel tombs in Japan. Said to have been constructed over 1400 years ago, this ancient burial ground contains 219 holes where the dead were laid down to sleep inside caskets. A very rare kind of luminous moss not usually found in the Kanto Plain region called Hikarigoke grows inside the tombs, and it has been designated as a protected species by the Japanese government. At the park, you also find the remains of an underground military factory constructed under the tombs during the Pacific War. This is a place full of surprises just waiting for you!

Entrance fee: general 300 JPY, elementary school students 200 JPY
Access: Board the Kawagoe Kanko Bus for Konosu Menkyo Center from Higashi-matsuyama Station on the Tobu Tojo Line; disembark at Hyakuana-Iriguchi and walk 7 minutes

5. Yoshimi Hyakuana (Saitama)

327 Kita-yoshimi, Yoshimi-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama

From a colorful incineration facility to a statue standing in a surprising place; in this article you learned a little about 5 unusual spots located in different regions of Japan! These quite unique locations make a great alternative if you ever get bored of visiting the standard tourist spots. Give them a try!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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