Good for: Buddhist, Japanese History
Not good for: photographers, Photography inside the buildin
- 657 Sanjūsangendōma wari-chō Higashiyama-ku
- admission ¥600
- 8am-4.30pm, 9am-3.30pm 16 Nov-31 Mar
Lonely Planet review for Sanjūsangen-dō Temple
The original Sanjūsangen-dō was built in 1164 at the request of the retired emperor Go-shirakawa. The temple's name refers to the 33 (sanjūsan) bays between the pillars of this long, narrow building, which houses 1001 statues of the 1000-armed Kannon (the Buddhist goddess of mercy). The largest Kannon is flanked on either side by 500 smaller Kannon images, neatly lined up in rows.
There are an awful lot of arms, but if you're picky and think the 1000-armed statues don't have the required number of limbs, then you should remember to calculate according to the nifty Buddhist mathematical formula that holds that 40 arms are the equivalent of 1000 arms, because each saves 25 worlds.
At the back of the hall are 28 guardian statues in a great variety of expressive poses. The gallery on the western side of the hall is famous for the annual Tōshi-ya Matsuri, held on 15 January, during which archers shoot arrows the length of the hall.
The temple is a 1.5km walk east of Kyoto Station; alternatively, take bus 206 or 208 and get off at the Sanjūsangen-dō-mae stop.