Hill of the Buddha : What an Amazing Visit

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Visiting the Hill of the Buddha (Japanese: 頭大仏) was one of the highlights of my trip to Hokkaido ! You can drive to this location outside of Sapporo town but for us, as we don’t drive during holidays, we took public transport ! It was an amazing experience visiting this very peaceful place and I invite you to try it out !

So Happy to be able to visit The Hill of the Buddha 頭大仏
So Happy to be able to visit The Hill of the Buddha 頭大仏

Visiting temples and places of prayers are always something I love to do during my travel. Even in Japan such as Nanzoin Temple in Fukuoka or Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion in Kyoto or Kiyomizu-Dera in Kyoto.

About Hill of the Buddha 頭大仏

The Hill of the Buddha is a remarkable architectural and landscape project located in Makomanai Takino Cemetery, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Designed by the renowned architect Tadao Ando, it features a large Buddha statue surrounded by a hill covered with lavender plants. The design creates a serene and contemplative space, blending architecture with nature in a way that exemplifies Ando’s minimalist aesthetic.

The site is designed so that the Buddha appears to emerge from the hill, with only its head visible from the outside. Visitors enter through a tunnel, which leads to a serene viewing area around the Buddha, creating a dramatic and introspective experience. The lavender plants, which bloom beautifully in the summer, add a vibrant layer of color and fragrance to the site, enhancing the peaceful and meditative atmosphere.

The Hill of the Buddha attracts visitors not only for its spiritual and religious significance but also for its architectural beauty and the way it harmoniously integrates with the surrounding landscape. It’s a unique destination that reflects the fusion of traditional spiritual symbols with contemporary design.

Timing to Visit the Hill of the Buddha

Actually there is quite a specific range of timing you would want to visit the Hill of the Buddha if you are taking the public transport. This is because there are some quite tight timing if you are taking bus 106 or bus 108 to and from the Hill of the Buddha.

I would advise an early morning ride to visit the Hill of the Buddha and be back by noon or early afternoon or so back to Sapporo.

How to get to the Hill of the Buddha from Sapporo by train and bus

As you can see from this map, the Hill of the Buddha is located SOUTH of Sapporo.

Hill of the Buddha is SOUTH of Sapporo
Hill of the Buddha is SOUTH of Sapporo

As we are staying at the Crowne Plaza Sapporo, it was relatively easy to leave the hotel and then to hop on the local Namboku Line to Makomani Eki (or Makomani Train Station).

As you can see, it is just a 18 minutes ride all the way to Makomanai Eki.

There are just 10 stops or so.

Train Stations from Sapporo to Makomanai Station
Train Stations from Sapporo to Makomanai Station

At the train station, exit at door 1.

Exit 1 of Makomanai Station
Exit 1 of Makomanai Station

You will want to exit by the South Exit.

South Exit of Makomanai Station
South Exit of Makomanai Station

Once you exit the train station, turn left at the main door and you will see a row of bus stops. You will be going to bus stop 2 where you can take bus 106 or bus 108.

Bus Stops at Makomanai Station
Bus Stops at Makomanai Station

If it is helpful, here’s the bus schedule.

Bus Schedule for Makomanai Station
Bus Schedule for Makomanai Station

Here’s the row of bus stops.

Bus Stops outside of Makomanai Station
Bus Stops outside of Makomanai Station

And yes here we are… either bus 106 or bus 108

Makomanai Station Bus Stop 2
Makomanai Station Bus Stop 2

Now, if you load up Google Map and load up Bus 106 and also Bus 108 at the same time, you will see all the buses timing to the bus stop called “Takino” or 滝野峠 or W9C5+MV Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

Buses 106 and 108 to Takino or 滝野峠
Buses 106 and 108 to Takino or 滝野峠

One thing you will notice is that during the same range of timing, there are MORE bus 106 than bus 108. And it is NOT surprising.

Let me explain with this picture (You can get a copy of this from this URL).

You see, bus 106 passes by the MAIN ROAD outside of the Makomanai Takino Cemetery while bus 108 goes INTO the Makomanai Takino Cemetery. As a result, bus 106 is more a general bus that goes by the cemetery as compared to the dedicated bus 108 which has much less frequency.

So we shall take the more frequent bus 106 rather than the more restricted bus 108. And there is another reason why we do so, which I shall later. We will take bus 108 back from the Big Buddha to the Makomanai Station later though.

So here come the bus. It is a Chuo Bus and don’t worry your Suica on iPhone works too.

Bus 106 to Makomanai Takino Cemetery
Bus 106 to Makomanai Takino Cemetery

On the bus….

Bus 106 to Makomanai Takino Cemetery
Bus 106 to Makomanai Takino Cemetery

If you are afraid of missing your stop (remember bus 106 passes by the cemetery), then use your google map to find where you are and how far you are from “Takino” or 滝野峠 or W9C5+MV Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (GPS Coordinate : 42°55’14.0″N, 141°21’45.9″E)

And if you are right, here’s the BUS STOP !!

Bus Stop of Takino Toge
Bus Stop of Takino Toge

The main entrance of the Hill of the Buddha is here.

Bus Stop of Takino Toge
Bus Stop of Takino Toge

Easter Island Is Here in Hokkaido

Here’s why you stopped at this bus stop. Immediately upon coming down from the bus, you will see these Moai Statues. For a moment, you are transported to Easter Island !

Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha
Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha

The presence of Moai statues at the Hill of the Buddha in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is part of the broader theme of integrating diverse cultural and spiritual elements into the landscape of Makomanai Takino Cemetery. These statues are replicas of the famous Moai statues from Easter Island (Rapa Nui), known for their large, monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people.

Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha
Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha

The inclusion of Moai statues in the cemetery is not directly related to the Buddhist theme of the Hill of the Buddha but serves as an intriguing element that adds to the park’s eclectic and global appeal. It reflects a desire to create a space that not only embodies the peace and serenity associated with Buddhist philosophy but also embraces a wider spectrum of cultural and spiritual symbols from around the world.

Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha
Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha

The Moai statues contribute to this vision by bringing a touch of the mysterious and the exotic, further enriching the visitor’s experience of the site.

Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha
Moai Statues at the Hill of the Buddha

It is quite special and spectacular actually, specially in the snow.

Amazing Moai Statues
Amazing Moai Statues

Visiting the Hill of the Buddha

Walking past the “Easter Island of Hokkaido”, you will reach the amazing area for the Hill of the Buddha.

頭大仏
頭大仏

You can do a slight detour to visit the Stonehenge too (I know.. not just Easter Island but even UK Stonehenge is here too).

Peeping out…

Buddha peeping at the 頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha
Buddha peeping at the 頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha

And I am getting excited, as always, when I visit places of worship..

Arriving at 頭大仏
Arriving at 頭大仏

There is an admission fee and very much dependent on your own honesty. I don’t joke about such things at places of worship so I definitely paid for my entrance. You can pay by many online methods such as credit cards too.

Paying for the admission fees
Paying for the admission fees

Paying Admission Fee
Paying Admission Fee

Under the tunnel, we are reaching..

Tunnel at 頭大仏
Tunnel at 頭大仏

And oh my god… Amazing..

I was so touched..when I can see the Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha

Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha
Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha

The weather is so nice. Cooling and not too hot or too cold. Not really snowing. With beautiful blue sky.

For the right timing to see this special view.

Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha
Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha
Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha
Buddha at the Hill of the Buddha
頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha
頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha

Cafe at the Hill

There is a small comfortable cosy cafe at the location too. You can buy food, drinks and some souvenirs too.

Cafe at the Hill
Cafe at the Hill
Cafe at the Hill
Cafe at the Hill

Getting back to the Makomanai Station or Makomanai Eki

As I mentioned earlier, this time we are going to take bus 108 (which comes INTO the cemetery) rather than bus 106 back to Makomanai station. So you don’t have to walk OUT to the main road.

Instead at the 頭大仏, look right and you see this glass house. It sells lots of good plants.

The bus stop inside of 頭大仏
The bus stop inside of 頭大仏

The bus stop is right outside the shop. The bus stop name is Makomanai Takinoreien.

Makomanai Takinoreien Bus Stop
Makomanai Takinoreien Bus Stop

And bus 108 will come here (not so regularly) to take you back.

Makomanai Takinoreien Bus Stop Time table
Makomanai Takinoreien Bus Stop Time table

And here comes bus 108.

Bus 108 back to Makomanai Eki
Bus 108 back to Makomanai Eki

This makes it really easy to go back to Sapporo !

The Hill at the Buddha : Visit or Not

Are you kidding ? Of course. This is a MUST to do 🙂

I was so happy to be able to plan and take public transport to visit 頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha and hope this article help you to plan so too.

Visit to the 頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha
Visit to the 頭大仏 : The Hill of the Buddha

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