Within striking distance of Sakata along the coast lies what might be called the Mt. Rushmore of Japan. Wait, no. That’s not right. These are religious figures, not political ones, and to be honest they’re not particularly large. That said, you can hardly begrudge them their lack of grandeur, as they were created without much of a budget.
22 Buddhist statues (16 arahats, shakyamuni, manjushri, samantabhadra, avalokiteshvara, shariputra, and maudgalyaayana) are carved into the lava rocks protruding into the Sea of Japan here. The Buddhist monk, Kankai, and local stone masons began carving these images in 1864 and completed them in 1868. The Buddhist images were meant to watch over those who perished in the ocean and protect the living from harm at sea. Though not so much larger than life, they are numerous and wear varied expressions. You’re sure to find one to protect you.
The rock is soft and some statues have eroded over time. Poor guys.
Location: Yuza, Yamagata (Map here!)
Access: 15-minute walk from Fukura Station on the JR Uetsu Line.