Zentsuji Temple in the city of Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, brushed the dust off a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, or the "Medicine Buddha," enshrined as its principal deity on Dec. 11.

Monks brush the dust off a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, or the "Medicine Buddha," on Dec. 11, 2020, at Zentsuji Temple in Kagawa Prefecture.

The wooden statue, completed in 1700 by renowned Buddha sculptor Uncho Kitagawa from Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1868), is cleaned annually in December prior to New Year's Day when the temple has many visitors.

Placed inside the temple's main hall, the seated figure is 6.6 meters tall from its pedestal to halo.

After a Buddhist sermon, 15 people such as monks who had cleansed themselves and donned traditional work clothing brushed the dust off the statue's face, halo and other parts carefully using a special duster made of a 4-meter-long bamboo pole and pieces of traditional handmade paper.

It took them two hours to clean the wrinkles of its clothing and other details with small brushes.

"We'd like to welcome visitors with a nice-looking principal image," said the temple's spokesperson Koken Nakashima.

The temple is slated to hold a daily service to pray for sound health from Dec. 22, the day of the winter solstice, through the traditional end of winter in February and the first service of next year from the moment the year changes.

But the free service of udon noodles and New Year's lottery will be withheld to prevent coronavirus infections.

The Shikoku Shimbun

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