• Kyodo

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A temple in Seki, Gifu Prefecture, has seen a threefold surge in visitors since October as a rugby boom ignited by Japan’s showing at the Rugby World Cup led to the discovery that its Buddha statue resembles the team’s star kicker.

The 3-meter-high copper statue at Seki Zenkoji Temple clasps its hands together in a peculiar style — with its thumbs and index fingers together — conjuring up the image of rugby player Ayumu Goromaru in the minds of some fans.

Temple master Shunkai Sato said several visitors told him about the resemblance between the statue and Goromaru’s signature pose in mid-October during the competition in England.

The 40-year-old priest then made a Facebook post about the statue, generating even more buzz.

“I’m surprised to see the huge response,” Sato said.

The statue came to Japan from China about 100 years ago, the priest said.

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