Oita: Event Participants Echo Buddha-Like Hairstyle

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Participants skip along a red carpet during an event to celebrate national treasure stone Buddhas, such as the one seen at right, in Usuki, Oita Prefecture.

USUKI, Oita — Some 100 people took part in a quirky tourism event in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, on Oct. 7 and 8, for which they first had their hair curled to look like the Buddha’s.

The event was organized to celebrate the ancient Usuki Stone Buddhas, a historically important cluster of Buddha figures in the city that have been designated national treasures.

Before joining the event, participants first went to a hair salon or barber shop in the city, where they had their hair tightly curled. The curls held only for the day as no perming agent was used. Feeling like Buddha images themselves, they walked around the city and took photos.

On Oct. 8, 24 groups of these curly haired masses joined the event, some from outside the prefecture. In festive dress, they paraded along a roughly 100-meter-long red carpet on the street, waving to attendees.

“I wanted to stand out, so this feels great. I’m really enjoying this event,” said a 37-year-old woman from the city, as she smiled and skipped around with three friends.

The Usuki Stone Buddhas are believed to have been carved around the 11th century, though no record remains of when they were created or by whom. For centuries, they were left to weather away. Usuki started restoration work on them in 1980. Currently, 61 of the city’s stone Buddha figures have been designated national treasures.