Meet 1,001 "Kannon-sama" images at Sanjyusangen-do Temple

by Tatsuhiro

What the temple is all about

The 120-meter-long temple houses a total of 1,000 standing statues of "Kannon" (Goddess of mercy), her gigantic statue seated in the center of those images, two powerful and dynamic statues of "Fujin" Wind God and "Raijin" Thunder God at either side of the hall and 28 images of guardian deities protecting the "Kannon" deities and pious Buddhists who believe in her. The statues are made of Japanese cypress with the special tecnique. As there are 33 spaces between the columns (some 2.5meters per space) in the facade, the temple came to be called "Sanjyusangen-do" (a hall with 33 spaces between columns). You cannot miss the structures outside the compound: Roofed eathen fence and South Gate, both of which are connected with Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi and represent the culture of the 16th century.

History of the temple

 Officially called "Rengeo-in" temple and designated as the National Treasure, it was originally established by the powerful warrior-politician Taira-no-Kiyomori in 1164. After the original temple building was burnt down 80 years later, the building was reconstructed in 1266 and it has remained unchanged to this day for some 700 years with four major renovations during that period. Among the 1,000 standing statues, 124 were made in the 12th century, when the temple was founded and the remaining 876, in the 13th century, when the temple was renovated.

Your souls are purified and saved from worldly worries

  Walk on the corridor in the long hall seeing the statues, while smelling the delicate aroma of burning incense, and you will be amazed at the serene-looking faces of the images of "Kannon-sama". Just bring yourself to the mysterious and esoteric world of Buddhism. You will never end up not admiring the ancient sculpture-making technology and the enthusiasm of those who were engaged in the construction of the statues. I wish I could add more pictures of these magnificent images, but I can`t, since photo-taking is no allowed

inside the hall.

 If you can`t take a bus on your way back...

 Since the temple is conveniently located within the walking distance from JR Kyoto station, it may be a good idea to walk on your way back to the station when the bus drivers do not allow more passengers to get on board at the nearby bus stop due to the capacity problem (except on the days of scorching heat, of course).

 Tour of Sanjyusangen-do Temple is here.


02 Aug 2015


National Certified Guide

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Contact Tatsuhiro

It took me some 20 years to be qualified for this job and I feel honored for being able to help tourists from abroad understand our nation and culture. Japan is a beautiful country with a long history, tradition and rich cultural heritages, having various features in each of the four distinct seasons. Although there are now many visitors from abroad, mainly from Asian countries, they are mostly interested in shopping taking advantage of cheaper yen rather than understanding our people and culture. Kyoto and Nara are the two cities best known by foreign tourists, but not all the aspects of Japanese culture are concentrated there. If you visit the countryside other than these two cities, you will never fail to see the beautiful natural surroundings and people who will warmly welcome you. I wish to work as the bridge between Japanese people and tourists from all over the world. read more


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