When visiting Kyoto, most visitors have included Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari on their must see list. If there are travellers with a little bit more time, most often Ginkakuji and Arashiyama are added to the list... However, the amazing treasure of Kyoto, Sanjusangendo temple is often overlooked. Even though this temple is unique in my opinion. So, in this article I will tell you why Sanjusangendo is a new place to visit and why I would recommend everyone to add it to their must-see list of Kyoto.
The outside of the temple may not look like that much. The only feature which will catch your eyes is the enormous length of this temple, because with no less than a 64! meters long side (and a 13 meter wide side), this temple is definitely unique.
Outside the temple on the grounds is a nice little garden, designed in the traditional Japanese style. And with the recognizable Japanese red-orange colored designed entrance in the back of the garden, this garden is the perfect garden to creat a picture perfect cliche Japanese picture.
The garden and the temple grounds aren't exactly what makes this temple so spectacular to visit. For this, you need to enter the main building.
The Sanjusangendo Temple, built in the 12th century holds as many as 1001 carved wooden gold plated statues of Kannon - The Buddhist god of Mercy. The statues are placed in symmetrical order, 500 in 10 rows of 50, of each side of the Sanju Kannon figure (the main Kannon statues rising with its height of 3.3 meters above all other statues!). This statue, the 1000-handed Kannon has eyes made of crystal and is accompanied by 28 other Kannon followers, each with its own characteristics.
This huge collection of statues inside one hall is a truely breathtaking sight.
Because photography is prohibited you will have to visit this sight yourself and soake in its greatness by just staring in awe when walking through the 64 meters long temple building!
So, in conclusion, Sanjusangendo is a unique temple located in the center of Kyoto and is often overlooked by touists. However, the unique aspect of the main hall, which has left me in awe when I visited this temple for the first time, is a truelly rememerable moment I would recommend everyone to experience.
1. On january 15th an annual Kyodo (archery) contest is held inside the temple grounds. This event, if your are in Kyoto shouldn't be missed.
2. If you collect Goshuin - This temple will also give out Goshuin.
From Kyoto station, take bus 100, 206 or 208 to Sanjusangendo bus stop.
Opening hours: 8:00-4:30 April-November 15 and
9:00-4:00 November 16th - March
Admission fee: 600 yen