NARA -- Around 180 people helped clean up the Great Buddha of Nara at Todaiji temple here on Aug. 7.
Monks, employees of the temple and followers expunged dirt from the whole complex, including the huge Chumon gate and the cloister. Both the Buddha statue and the building are designated national treasures.
The participants, who wore traditional white clothes after taking a purifying bath at the temple, attended a 7 a.m. ritual to temporarily remove the spirit from the Buddha statue before commencing cleaning.
Those tasked with tidying up its head climbed up to the top of it from the inside of the statue at the Great Buddha Hall. Three small gondolas were suspended from the ceiling to wipe its face and chest.
Norikatsu Moriyama, 40, a resident of the city of Nara, who cleaned the statue's left hand, said, "The cleaning is a milestone for the year. I feel good, like I'm brushing away a year's worth of dust from myself, too."
(Japanese original by Yasuhiro Okawa, Nara Bureau)