A “space temple” is planned for the inside of a private satellite to be launched in 2023, and the holy place will be reachable from Earth, organizers said Friday.

Kyoto’s Daigoji Temple and Terra Space inc., a satellite developer, have teamed up to launch an ultrasmall satellite the size of a jewelry box that will orbit around Earth. The temple, named Jotenin Gounji Temple, will be placed inside the satellite along with a small Buddha statue and mandala paintings, Terra Space said.

"In the past, people had a temple in their neighborhood where they could go regularly. However, with many people relocating to other places, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, that has become difficult," said a Terra Space official. "We wanted to build a temple people can easily turn to."

Gounji Temple will be accessible to people on Earth. Daigoji Temple priests will remotely hold “space services” promoting peace and humanity from the Kyoto temple for those who apply online, and their prayers will be sent to the space temple to be saved in its memory.

In addition to its religious purpose, the satellite is expected to facilitate the checking of cultural assets and damage in times of disaster in mountainous areas where there is no internet access or cell phone reception.

However, funding remains a problem. A satellite of this size usually costs around ¥200 million to build and launch. The company is currently looking for investors and is planning to use revenue from space-related products, such as lucky charms, and services offered at Daigoji Temple.