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Workers scaled a giant statue of a Buddhist goddess on Tuesday to place a custom-made mask on her face, an act meant to be a prayer for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

It took four workers three hours to carry the massive mask on ropes up the 57-meter-high white statue of the Buddhist goddess Kannon — the Goddess of Mercy — at the Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin temple in Fukushima Prefecture.

They then unfurled the mask made with pink net fabric, measuring 4.1 meters by 5.3 meters and weighing 35 kilograms, across the lower half of the statue’s face.

A drone picture shows a mask placed on a giant statue of Buddhist goddess Kannon at Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin temple in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on Tuesday. | OISO ALL SUPPORT / VIA REUTERS
A drone picture shows a mask placed on a giant statue of Buddhist goddess Kannon at Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin temple in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on Tuesday. | OISO ALL SUPPORT / VIA REUTERS

The statue, built 33 years ago, is hollow with a spiral staircase that can be climbed to the height of the goddess’ shoulder. People visit the statue, which is holding a baby, to pray for the safe delivery of babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns.

Temple manager Takaomi Horigane said workers came up with the idea for the face mask in discussions on the restoration of the statue after it was damaged in an earthquake in February.

Horigane said they plan to keep the mask on the statue until the COVID-19 situation is under control in Japan.

The statue of Kannon is usually visited by people wanting to pray for the safe delivery of babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns. | HOUKOKUJI AIZU BETSUIN / VIA REUTERS
The statue of Kannon is usually visited by people wanting to pray for the safe delivery of babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns. | HOUKOKUJI AIZU BETSUIN / VIA REUTERS

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