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[YouTube] 5:05-5:42 Sanjusangendo Temple (10 Best Places to Visit in Kyoto)

What is Sanjusangendo?

Sanjusangendo is a Buddhist temple in the Higashiyama District of Kyoto. It was built in 1165 under order of Emperor Go-Shirakawa. The 120-meter-long temple hall houses numerous Japanese national treasures, among which is the hall itself.

Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto | Japanesquest

Photo: Bomoa

What to See?

1. Raijin and Fujin

As you enter the temple, you will first see the statue of Raijin, the god of thunder. There is also Fujin, the god of wind, on the opposite side of the temple.

The images of these gods are derived from people’s fear of and gratitude for natural forces in the old days. Back then, people worshipped them as deities who controlled the rain and wind and brought about good harvests. These two statues are masterpieces and are representative of the Kamakura period in the 12–14th centuries.

Fujin Statue at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest Raijin Statue at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest

2. A Thousand Kannon Statues

The principal image of Sanjusangendo is the Thousand-Armed Kannon. And the temple is most famous for housing one thousand life-size statues of it. They stand on both the right and left sides of the main statue in 10 rows and 50 columns.

There is a saying that whatever person’s face you are looking for, there is always a statue that looks like that person.

A Thousand Kannon Statues at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest

3. Senju-kannon-Zazo

At the center of the Sanjusangendo’s hall, there is Senju-kannon-Zazo, a gigantic seated statue of the Thousand-Armed Kannon. It is over 3 meters high and has 11 faces and 40 arms. Each arm is believed to save 25 different kinds of worlds. Therefore, 40 times 25 equals a thousand arms.

Senju-kannon-Zazo Statue at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest

Photo: Bamse

4. The 28 guardian deities

Last but not least, there are 28 statues of guardian deities, who protect the Buddhist deity Kannon and pious Buddhists who believe in Kannon. Many of these guardian deities have their origin in ancient Hindu mythology, and their mythic images are depicted vividly.

Basu Sennin at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest Taishakuten at Sanjusangendo | Japanesquest

Hours Open:
8:00-17:00 (9:00-16:00 from Nov 16 to Mar 31)
600 yen