Full-scale maintenance work began on the Great Buddha of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture on Wednesday.
It is the first full-scale restoration work since the "major Showa era restoration," undertaken from 1959 to 1961. Designated as a national treasure, the bronze statue of the Amitabha Buddha will be closed to the public until March 10.
According to an official of Kotoku-in temple, where the Great Buddha is enshrined as the principal image, the current bronze statue was cast in the 13th century. An earlier wooden version, also built in the 13th century, was destroyed in a storm.
The maintenance work is being conducted to remove rust stains from the 13.4-meter-tall statue. Measures to prevent the statue from sustaining damage in an earthquake are also being considered.
On Wednesday, about 20 workers spread black plastic sheets on the ground around the statue to prevent damage to the stone pavement. The installation of scaffolding around the statue will begin on Friday and last for one week, after which the scaffolding will be covered with translucent sheets.