By 埊 (Crop of File:Yatomi and Goromaru, 20141129.jpg) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By 埊 (Crop of File:Yatomi and Goromaru, 20141129.jpg) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of fans have been visiting a Buddhist statue at Seki Zenkoji Temple that resembles Rugby player Ayumu Goromaru.

A Japanese Buddha statue has attracted unexpected attention from the most unlikely source of rugby fans. They are going in droves to a Buddhist temple located at Gifu Prefecture in central Japan. The fans believe that the 3-meter high statue at the Seki Zenkoji Temple resembles their icon, the Japanese full back Rugby player Ayumu Goromaru.

This happened after Japan defeated South Africa in the Rugby World Cup in a 34-32 margin of victory. The temple has enjoyed a sudden influx of visitors. Many of them are young rugby players who wish to follow in the footsteps of their hero. The chief priest of the temple, Shunkai Sato, told a media agency that 1,000 people are visiting the temple during weekends.

Goromaru, the 29-year-old player at the center of all this attention, quickly become a national hero after he scored 24 points to give his team the victory in the opening match against Springboks. He also was the maiden Japanese player to be given a place in the dream team of the tournament. The outcome of the game was described as a major upset in Rugby World Cup history.

The Buddhist statue's hand gesture resembles the pre-kick stance taken by Goromaru. The pose consists of hands clasped together with the index fingers pointing upwards. The pose taken by the Dainichi Nyorai statue and Gorumaru is identical. The latter is seen taking the pose when he prepares for conversions and penalty kicks. The behavior has since been widely mimicked by both rugby fans Japanese youngsters.

A school rugby team of 18 players had made a trip to this shrine and prayed for success in future tournaments. The players want to kick accurately like Goromaru. Incidentally, even as most of the Buddhist statues have their hands clasped together, the index figure style is unusual. The Gifu figure is believed to be of China origination and dates back 500 years. The temple itself is at least a century old. The statue is believed to have been cast in China.

Gorumaru is scheduled to leave the Japanese rugby club scene in February 2016 to play for the Australian team Queensland Reds. He credits Jonny Wilkinson for the inspired kicking style.  Gorumaru was once coached by the England international player over 10 years ago. The Japanese player, in his own words, was shocked by the sporting excellence of the Englishman.

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