三十三間堂(蓮華王院) Sanjusangendo Hall
- Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals
- Gion / Kiyomizu-dera Temple Area
- Travelko Rating
- ClosedOpen every day
Maps are rarely carried out with accessing from mainland China.
- Gion / Kiyomizu-dera Temple Area
- 657, Sanjusangendomawaricho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 605-0941, Japan
- Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals
- Opening Hours
- 8:00-17:00, (From 16th Nov to Mar - 9:00-16:00)
- Open every day
Appreciate the beautiful Buddhist statues
”Sanjusangen-do” literally means “Buddhist hall with 33 spaces between the columns” and describes the architecture of the 125 meter long main hall of the temple.
The temple building assemblies of Buddhist statues made of wood with gold coating on its surface.
The main statue is a seated Kannon Bodhisattva, a masterpiece attributed to a master sculptor from the 12th century.
There are 1,000 statues standing except the largest one which is in the center of the hall.
Kannon is the bodhisattva of compassion for all mankind whose statue is peaceful and benevolent.
A thousand standing statues flank the main image in 50 columns,ten rows deep each.
The first glance at these statues will probably impress you even if you are not a Buddhist.
Tourists using wheelchairs are allowed entry to the temple, provided the dirt or soil attached to the tires of wheelchairs are wiped off at the entrance.
Others have to take off their shoes as well. The corridor to the main hall has slopes that are not so steep, so wheelchairs are able to freely move on it.
It takes about an hour to look at all the 1,000 statues with various expressions on their faces.
Different from other Buddhist temples in Kyoto,the first hour of parking fee is free
And it’s an eight minute walk east from Shichijo station on the Keihan railway to the temple, which is next to Hotel Hyatt Regency Kyoto.
Across the street is the Kyoto National Museum, which exhibits famous paintings, sculptures, scrolls, and other artifacts of Japan’s National Treasures and important cultural properties.
Admission fee: 600 JPY, (400 JPY, junior and high school students)
1,001 Senju Kannons overwhelm you
You would not be aware of the length of the hall until you really step into it. The length of it is 120 meters! You will also be surprised by the quantity of statues. There are actually 1,001 Senju Kannons. Each Kannon has 42 hands and each hand has an eye. We are simply overwhelmed by the numbers there. Another overwhelming statue is in the middle of the hall. This time it is not the number, but the size of a statue that overwhelms us. This is the only one large statue of Kannon sitting with dignity, but this and other 1,000 statues altogether are the principal images of the temple hall. There are also 28 guardian deities with the Thunder God and the Wind God. Those statues look very vivid and real. It takes a long time to look at them closely and read the attached explanation boards, but it’s worth doing so.
The backside of the hall is used as a museum and you can learn a lot about the temple hall from everything displayed there. Among the things that are displayed, regarding Toshiya, competitions of Japanese archery, are also displayed. The competitions were held on the west side of the hall. Competitors shot arrows from the south end of the hall to the north. They used a very strong bow to carry the arrows to the target 120 meters away. Many brilliant results were recorded. Nowadays the competition is held in the middle of January as a form of ceremony. Many Kimono-clad young ladies take part in this ceremony and remind us of the New Year season.
When you get out of the hall, I recommend you to go to the south part of the temple. You can see the wall and the south gate which Toyotomi Hideyoshi built in the 16th century. The main temple hall, on the other hand, was constructed in the 12th century by Taira no Kiyomori for the sake of monk-emperor Go-Shirakawa. The temple belongs to the Tendai sect and represents the Heian period (794-1185).
On the east side of the hall, there are two small gardens and the east gate. It is forbidden to take pictures inside the hall, but you can take some pictures outside there.
Only temple in Japan which has 1001 images of Buddhist deity
Popularly called Sanjusangen-do, Rengeo-in was established in 1164 by the powerful warrior-politician Taira-no-Kiyomori. This building was rebuilt in 1266 after the disastrous fire of Kyoto. Since then, the structure has remained unchanged for 700 years.
The building, registered as a National Treasure by the Japanese government has a special Japanese architectural style with the longest frontage of 118m (390ft) in length.
The 1001 statues of Buddhist deity (11 headed-1000 eyed-1000 handed Kannon Bodhisattva) followed by 28 images of guardian deity in different forms and Gods of Wind and Thunder are the most noteworthy. All of the statues in this temple are made of wood in an assembled construction method and are the masterpieces of the 13th century. The main image (national treasure), sitting in the middle of the long alter, measures 3.34m (10ft) in height was carved by the master sculptor Tankei in the 13th century. According to the inscription on the image, Tankei completed the work at the age of 82 assisted by his pupils. Of the 1000 smaller standing statues of one thousand handed Kannon, 124 have been saved from the first fire in the 12th century. Others were made when this temple was reconstructed. Each of the 1000 standing statues measures about 167cm (5.4ft) in height and is gold lacquered (Important Cultural Property). It is said that you will find your missed ones among the 1000 statues. There is a laughing one among them, though it is terribly difficult to find. In front of these 1001 statues stand 28 wooden statues in various forms between the statues of gods of wind and thunder. They are all designated as National Treasures in Japan and their vivid and realistic expressions are greatly admired. Once they were beautifully colored, but now the color is almost gone.
Along the corridor, Japanese-English explanations are available for each statue.
On the back of the temple, there is an open veranda which was formally used as an archery contest field. Archers competed on the basis of arrows shot in a day at a distance of 125m (410ft). Frames given to the champions of the contests were exhibited at the rear side of the altar.
To feel the real length of the temple, let’s stand in the middle of its frontage.
Not many visitors go into the front garden, but I recommend you to stand in front of the temple. Standing there, I feel the strong wish of the person who established this particular temple.
On the opposite side of the road is Kyoto National Museum, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel is next to this temple on the same side.
Entrance fee; ¥600(JPY), Opening hours; 8:00-17:00
*Reference: Sanjusangen-do home page
Guide text by JGA
- * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
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