TOKYO: A Japanese company has reportedly agreed with an ancient temple that it would withdraw a controversial plastic figurine -- a seated, grinning Buddha with a bulge between its legs.

"We agreed to stop its sale and recall it," said a company employee, adding that the firm had also spoken to the eighth century Todaiji temple in the former capital of Nara, known for its giant bronze Buddha statue.

The company, HN and Associates, had made and sold the golden-robed "Marimokkori" character around Todaiji with a tag that carried a drawing of the temple's World Heritage-listed Great Buddha Hall.

The company withdrew the product after a request from the temple.

"It's true that we didn't have their approval beforehand," said the company representative, who declined to be named. "We understand the view that giving a bulge to a Buddha statue is imprudent."

The Marimokkori character, which originated in northern Hokkaido island, is a word play on "marimo," a type of moss ball found in lakes, and "mokkori," which means bulge and is a slang term for an erection.

HN and Associates produced the Buddha character under licence from the Hokkaido company Kyowa.

A Kyowa marketing official said the company had in the past turned down design proposals "for such reasons as the bulge between the legs being too big" but added, "We normally okay designs unless they are extraordinarily strange."