This giant Buddha is a unique one, being an effigy of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing, known as Bhaisajyaguru in Sanskrit. The immense image of Yakushi was carved out of Mt. Nokogiri, named for the saw-tooth appearance of the mountains in the range of the same name.
The temple itself dates back to 725 CE, and the Great Buddha and 1500 other statues and carvings were created by the master artisan Jingoro Eirei Ono and his army of twenty five plus apprentices in the 1780s. So large is the Buddha of Nihonji that it appears on Google maps, (the circle in the upper right hand corner) and a comparison with the nearby parking lot gives a good sense of its massive size.
With the recent and unfortunate events in Japan (March 2011) such marvel might well be damaged. The Power Plant from Fukushima being further North is a real threat for the Seated Buddha. Despite of Oxfam helping out and people starting to donate to charity it might not be enough to reverse the situation.
A real fight against time to preserve what’s left.