Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

Rating: 4.6

Address: 657 Sanjūsangendōmawari, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0941, Japan

Reviews:

Ignazio Kevin Anastasi: This temple, officially known as Rengeo-in, is renowned for its 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. As you enter the long wooden hall, you will be able to see the scale and beauty of the statues, each one slightly different than the other, each one extremely detailed. Walking through the hall, I felt a profound sense of peace and very emotional. The building is ancient, elegant but simple with many rows of statues from one side to another. At the very centre of the hall a huge Kannon statue with multiple arms holding different symbolic items. It's a must see place and remains one of my favorite in Kyoto. The combination of spirituality, historical significance, and artistic beauty makes it a truly unique and unforgettable visit. Enjoy it!

Andrew Bennett: A beautiful Buddhist Temple located in Kyoto. For ¥600 for ticket to enter the Temple. When I visited the temple was not busy with no wait time, purchased ticket at the front entrance. Absolutely amazing experience, as you are unable to take pictures inside the temple. It is something that I highly recommend to witness, a breathtaking experience. As you take your shoes off to enter, when you walk in there are 1000 thousand life size statues of the Thousand Arm Kannon. 28 statues of guardian deity & 2 famous statues of Fujin, the Japanese Kami of Wind & Raijin, the Japanese Kami of Thunder.

Jonathan Lee: This was quite possibly one of the most surreal things I have ever seen in my life. This temple is home to the 1001 Buddha statues. It was incredibly bizarre and crazy to see such a sheer number of statues. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside. You should definitely check out this temple while staying in Kyoto!

A C: I’m not sure why this place isn’t more popular. It was one of the cooler and more memorable temples we saw in Kyoto. We went early, about 930-1000 and there was hardly anyone there. The entry fee is about 400yen so whatever that is in your currency(not much, I’ll wager). This place is famous for having 1000 gold Buddha statues. I didn’t count them but I’d believe it. In the centre of it all is another massive Buddha statue that was really awe inspiring. So it’s actually 1001. You get an extra Buddha at no additional cost. There is a cool history about the various sculptors who made the 1000 statues and the large statue is considered to be one of the most important representations of traditional Japanese sculptures. You’ll see why when you look at it. You’re not allowed to photograph anything inside so instagram opportunities are limited. But the history of the temple is quite interesting and I would highly recommend you take the time to have a read of the little information plaques. They are well done and increase the overall experience.

I Z: One of the prettiest temples we visited in Kyoto and quite serene on that (week)day. The interior is impressive with the 1001 Kannon statues (goddess of compassion). The photos inside are strictly prohibited. No shoes are allowed either (better to take a second pair of socks if that doesn't sit well with you, like I did...)


Opening Times:

  • Monday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Website: http://www.sanjusangendo.jp/

Welcome to Sanjūsangendō, one of Kyoto’s most remarkable and revered temples. Officially known as Rengeō-in, this temple is renowned for its impressive architectural design and its awe-inspiring collection of 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Nestled in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, Sanjūsangendō is a must-visit for anyone interested in Japanese history, art, and spirituality.

Historical Significance

Sanjūsangendō was originally constructed in 1164 by order of Emperor Go-Shirakawa. The temple’s name, which means “Hall with Thirty-Three Bays,” refers to the unique architectural design of its main hall, which is divided into 33 bays (a traditional unit of measurement in Japanese architecture). The temple was rebuilt in 1266 after being destroyed by fire, and the current structure has stood for over seven centuries.

The Main Hall

The main hall of Sanjūsangendō is the longest wooden structure in Japan, measuring approximately 120 meters (394 feet) in length. This architectural marvel is renowned for its serene and imposing presence. Inside, the hall houses the temple’s most treasured artifacts—1,001 statues of Kannon, the Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva.

The Thousand-Armed Kannon

At the center of the hall stands a large, seated statue of the Thousand-Armed Kannon, flanked by 1,000 life-sized standing statues arranged in ten rows and fifty columns. These statues are carved from Japanese cypress and gilded in gold leaf, each one displaying intricate craftsmanship and unique facial expressions. The sheer scale and beauty of this collection are breathtaking, offering a profound sense of peace and reverence.

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Architectural and Artistic Marvel

The design and construction of Sanjūsangendō showcase the exquisite skills of Japanese artisans. The hall’s wooden structure is supported by large pillars and beams, creating a spacious and airy interior. The statues themselves are masterpieces of Kamakura-period sculpture, reflecting both the artistic style and spiritual devotion of the era.

The Tōshiya Archery Competition

Sanjūsangendō is also famous for the annual Tōshiya archery competition, held every January. This traditional event dates back to the Edo period and attracts archers from across Japan who test their skills by shooting arrows the length of the temple hall. The competition is a vibrant and exciting display of precision and endurance, adding a lively cultural dimension to the temple’s serene ambiance.

Visiting Sanjūsangendō

The temple is easily accessible by public transportation and is located near other popular attractions such as Kiyomizu-dera and the Kyoto National Museum. Visitors are encouraged to explore the temple grounds, which include a tranquil garden and a pond, perfect for reflection and relaxation.

Conclusion

A visit to Sanjūsangendō offers a deep and enriching experience, blending history, art, and spirituality in one of Kyoto’s most iconic settings. Whether you’re admiring the incredible statues of Kannon, marveling at the architecture, or witnessing the archery competition, Sanjūsangendō provides a memorable and inspiring glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage.

For more information and to plan your visit, check out the official Sanjūsangendō website

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