Japan Swapping Ancient Statues for 3D Printed Buddhas

In Japan, ancient Buddhist temples dot the landscape. Many of these cultural treasures also house priceless religious antiquities.

The valuable Buddha statues, however, have proven tempting to thieves, inspiring a rather unique collaboration between students and the traditional monk caretakers.

To replace the priceless statues on display, Japanese students are creating 3D printed replicas and getting up close and personal with their cultural heritage in a new way.

In one case, teens at the Prefectural Wakayama Technical High School used 3D scanners to replicate the Aizen Myoo statue.


After six months of hard work, the original is now tucked away for safe-keeping. The 3D version in on display.

The Buddhist monks who care for the temples and the treasures within, welcome the statues and the use of technology to help preserve the actual artifacts for the next generations.

“There really is no other way to be able to permanently guard the statue (Buddha),” said one abbot whose ancient temple now has a high-tech copy installed. “With this 3D printed replica, as long as it is enshrined in the temple, people can feel at ease.”

Photo Credit: 3D Printed Buddha statue via 3DPrint