Before leaving this small forest, look for a large statue of a monk. You are standing before what is supposedly the grave of Gyōki, the famous monk and eventual bodhisattva who is central to Unzen’s history. This monument and others at Manmyōji would not have been possible without the contributions of Ueki Mototarō, founder of the Shimabara Railway Company.
Mr. Ueki was a man of culture with a deep appreciation for history. After founding the Shimabara Railway in the early twentieth century, he became mayor of Shimabara and chairman of a local historical preservation society. Thanks to his fund-raising efforts, Manmyōji’s buildings were restored and its monuments repaired, and Unzen became an even more attractive tourist destination.
Gyōki, coincidentally, was not only a great Buddhist monk but also was skilled at raising funds to finance the building of infrastructure for the benefit of common people. It is fitting, then, that the memory of Gyōki continued to be preserved by a man like Mr. Ueki.