Amazing demolition site of the “Great Kannon Statue” on Awaji Island, ending its 40-year history. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Amazing demolition site of the “Great Kannon Statue” on Awaji Island, ending its 40-year history.

Awaji Island's famous "Kannon-san," which supported the tourism industry during the bubble era, comes to an end after 40 years of history.

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On June 14, ’21, the dismantling of the “World Peace Great Kannon Statue” on Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, began and has now reached its climax. As a landmark of Awaji Island, the statue has been affectionately called “Kannon-san” by islanders and tourists for 40 years. The neck of the statue was used as an observatory, which was visited by many people at that time.

Now, 16 years after its closure, the “dismantling” of the statue is becoming a hot topic of conversation as the building is nearing the end of its life.

It’s sublime in a way…

The building has been abandoned since its closure, and as it has aged, the local people have been concerned about its seismic resistance. After the death of the entrepreneur, the statue was taken over by the national government, which decided to demolish it on June 14, 2009.

Tsutomu Gojo, 63, chairman of the local neighborhood association, who has watched over the statue for many years, shared his feelings about the demolition.

The mortar on the outside of the statue was gradually rolling up and falling, and when it was windy, it would fly 100 to 200 meters. My house is about a three-minute walk down the road from Kannon, but there was a possibility that it could have flown that far.

There was also talk of the Nankai Trough, and we were all worried about what would happen if we collapsed.

When I flew from Kansai Airport, there was a route that passed over Kannon-san, and when I got on the plane, I could see it below me. It’s selfish of me, but I’m glad that the demolition work has started, but at the same time, I feel a little sad as the scaffolding is being erected and the statue is becoming more and more hidden.

Why was the statue of the Great Kannon abandoned beyond its useful life? The statue of the Great Kannon of World Peace was opened in 1982. The statue was built by a local businessman with his own investment.

The owner, Mr. Ouchi, is from deeper in the mountains than where the statue is located. He was a farmer whose house was located one or two mountains over. He went to Osaka and made a fortune in the building business, and later became successful in the hotel business in Himeji.

He told me that he used to come down the mountain with his mother and eat lunch together at the place where Kannon-san is now. From there, he saw Kobe and Osaka, and said, “I want to make something that allows me to see Osaka from the mountain where I ate lunch with my mother. If I wanted to build something, it would have to be Kannon-san,’ he said.

The decision to build the statue was made during the period of high economic growth. Around the Kannon statue, restaurants were built, and the statue became a tourist resource for the island as the “world’s largest Kannon statue.

The area where the statue is located was formerly called Higashiura Town, and my father was a member of the town council there. My father was a member of the town council there, and Mr. Ouchi often came to our house. When he wanted to build a Kannon, a pagoda, and a gate, I heard that everyone in the town was not so opposed.

I think he had a lot of feelings for that place where he walked down with his mother and ate his lunch together.

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Clearly visible from a distance

When the demolition is completed, the site will be approximately 19,000 square meters. While the national finance bureau has been tight-lipped about the use of the site, the head of the neighborhood association revealed the following.

This is still in the discussion stage. ……There are six neighborhood associations in that area. There are six neighborhood associations in that area, and I am the president of theTsudaNeighborhood Association as well as the president of the federation of the six neighborhood associations. We are in the process of forming a group of about 10 people, including residents of the area, to think about the site. We are making the rules now.

That area is the warmest area in Awaji Island. The view from the site is also very good. I would like the city to listen to the residents’ opinions on the use of the site, rather than leaving it to the Kinki Finance Bureau. Regardless of whether the city buys the site or not, even if it is a private company, I would like to see the city take into account the wishes of the residents.

Anyway, it’s huge!

Demolition of a “rare” structure

A tender was held for the dismantling of the statue of Kannon, and a contractor in Osaka was chosen to undertake the work. A contractor in Osaka was chosen to dismantle the statue at the lowest price of 880 million yen.

The dismantling work is currently in progress. This statue of the Goddess of Mercy is 80 meters long, excluding the pedestal. Unlike ordinary buildings, the dismantling of the statue was not smooth and they had to rethink the process.

As a general rule, we had planned to dismantle the building from the top, erecting all the scaffolding, starting the stripping work from the head, and then cutting the steel frame when it was complete and lowering it with a crane.

However, it turned out that the building was quite solid except for the weak areas where the mortar had deteriorated, and the stripping work would take much longer than expected. As a result, we decided to proceed with the stripping work in order starting from the foot of the building,” said a staff member of the Administration Department of the Kinki Finance Bureau.

In many foreign countries, when demolishing a huge building, they often blow it up at once to clear away the debris. However, the dismantling of the statue of Kannon is said to be an accumulation of very steady work.

The first step is to go up from each floor below, break the mortar with a rock drill, and cut it into pieces the size of a fist. The mortar is then cut into pieces the size of a fist, and dropped down from the dust chute. At present, about 10 craftsmen are engaged in this demolition.

Since the beginning of the year, more dismantling has been going on, and the head is now covered with scaffolding. The local symbol has come to the end of an era and is about to be reborn in a new place.

  • Photo Kyohei Noguchi

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