This watchful statue of Shinran Shonin stands guard over a quiet section of Riverside Drive at 105th Street and remains a testament to faith in the face of tragedy. When 150,000 people were killed and 90% of the buildings in Hiroshima were destroyed by the atomic bomb, this statue was one of the few artifacts to survive. Shinran Shonin founded the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism in the early 13th century because he had become disillusioned with what Buddhism had become during the turmoil of the early Kamakura period.
The statue was brought to the United States in 1955. It was originally offered to the United Nations as a symbol of peace, but the UN declined the proposal due to the lack of a proper space. Instead, it was placed in front of the New York Buddhist Church, which has been operating on the Upper West Side since 1938. It was the first center for Jodo Shinshu in New York City and continues to be active, with Buddhist chanting and meditation sessions, study groups and religious services.