Sanjuusangen-do, Kyoto

22 Reviews

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Sanjuusangen-do
    by toonsarah
  • Sanjuusangen-do
    by toonsarah
  • Sanjusangen Do
    Sanjusangen Do
    by Jim_Eliason
  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

    by toonsarah Written Dec 18, 2013

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    This temple, also known as Rengeo-in, was a complete contrast to Kiyomizu-dera (which we had visited just prior to coming here) but no less impressive in its way. The main hall is all that remains here, having been rebuilt in 1266 after a fire destroyed the temple 17 years before that. The hall is 120 metres long and is Japan's longest wooden structure. The name Sanjūsangen-dō (literally "33 intervals") derives from the number of spaces between the building's support columns, which was a traditional method of measuring the size of a building.

    Visitors file along one side of this hall to view the wonders it contains. In the centre is a six foot tall wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon. This was carved by the Kamakura sculptor Tankei in 1254 and is a National Treasure of Japan. On each side of this are 500 more (making 1,001 Kannons in total), made of cypress wood and arranged in tiers (10 rows and 50 columns). They are human-sized and each one is subtly different from the next. People apparently come to Sanjūsangen-dō to look for the likeness of a loved one among the many statues. 124 of these statues are from the original temple, rescued from the fire of 1249, while the remaining 876 were constructed in the 13th century.

    Traditionally 1000-armed Kannons are equipped with 11 heads to better witness the suffering of humans, and with 1000 arms to better help them fight the suffering. But you won’t be able to count 1000 arms on them, as in practice they are made with just 42 arms each. You need to subtract the two regular arms to give 40, each of which is said to have the power to save 25 worlds, giving the full thousand. In Buddhist beliefs, Kannon is a Bodhisattva, i.e. one who achieves enlightenment but postpones Buddha-hood until all can be saved. The name literally means watchful listening, and it is the task of the compassionate Kannon to witness and listen to the prayers and cries of those in difficulty in the earthly realm, and to help them achieve salvation.

    As you file back to your starting point along the corridor behind these statues you pass 28 more statues of Japanese deities who protect the Buddhist universe. Outside there is a small Japanese garden with a water fountain, where we enjoyed relaxing on a shady bench for a while.

    Entry costs 600¥. No photography is allowed inside the hall – a rule that is very strictly enforced, with CCTV cameras to supervise and notices announcing that anyone suspected of taking photos will have their camera examined and offending images deleted. The website I have linked below is in Japanese only but has some good photos of the statues.

    There is a good gift shop here, where we bought a pack of postcards to compensate for not having been able to take photos of the Kannon, and some small scented sachets. You can also get some nicely done calligraphy.

    After this we went back to check into our ryokan and to rest before our late afternoon walking tour of Gion.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • bkoon's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangendo Temple - Dedicated to the Kannon

    by bkoon Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Exterior of Temple

    One of my favourite temples. It houses some 31 national treasures which are all statues of buddhist gods and goddesses. This is a Kannon (Goddess of Mercy) Temple.

    The statues are :
    1 Kannon Bodhisattva (Thousand Armed Kannon)
    28 spirits subordinated to Kannon
    1 Wind God (Fujin)
    1 Thunder God (Raijin)

    AND

    On each side of Kannon, there are 500 statues, lined neatly in 10 tens rows of 50 statues per row. All the wooden statues are covered with gold leaves.

    The main image of Kannon Badhisattva has 11 small faces and 21 pairs of arms which symbolise 1000 arms. Reason being, each arm saves 25 worlds.

    Extracted from web-link :
    Extending 125 metres from north to south with 33 intervals between the pillars this is the longest wooden structure in the world. Founded in 1164 by order of retired emperor Goshirakawa. The central image is a seated figure of the Kannon with 11 faces and 1000 arms (goddess of mercy: a National Treasure). This is flanked by 28 deities (all National Treasures) that usually accompany the main Kannon image and embody virtues such as exorcism of evil spirits etc. There are also 1000 smaller standing statues of the Thousand-armed Kannon. The temple is further renowned for the Toshiya or Archery Contest that takes place behind the temple in January. Affiliated with the Tendai sect.

    Entrance Fee : 600 Yen (As at 15 May 04)

    Was this review helpful?

  • Rabbityama's Profile Photo

    Unique and Impressive

    by Rabbityama Written Nov 4, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pond Outside Sanjuusangendo

    Some visitors to Kyoto complain that there are too many temples and shrines. I personally love the shrines and temples, but even if you are growing tired of them, Sanjuusangendo is one temple that is sure to impress! The 1001 gold statues within the temple are so beautiful and intricately designed (along with some wooden statues), no matter how many temples you've visited, if you haven't been here, you will be glad you came! It is one of Kyoto's most beloved attractions and it truly lives up to its reputation!

    Entrance is 600 yen.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • xaver's Profile Photo

    The 1001 buddha statues temple

    by xaver Written Oct 11, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    temple

    This temple is probably the closer to the railway station and it is popular for the room where it contains the 1001 statues of Buddha.
    I did not dare to count them so I cannot witness if they are really that many, but the quantity is definitly impressive.
    The statues are all made of japanese cypress.
    124 statues were made during the 12th century and the remaining 876 in the 13th century when the temple was renovated.
    Inside the room of the statues you cannot take any picture and you must leave your shoes outside.
    The temple ticket was 600 yen.
    Opening time: 8:00 to 17:00 (9:00 to 16:00 from Nov 16 to Mar 31)

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • muratkorman's Profile Photo

    1001 statues of Kannon

    by muratkorman Written Sep 25, 2009

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    2 more images

    Sanjusangendo is famous for 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple is also called Rengeo-in. It was built in 1164. The main hall which hosts the statues, is Japan's longest wooden structure with over 100 meters. In the center, a large Kannon sits and 500 smaller statues stand on each side. The powerful and dynamic statues of Thunder God and Wind God are placed at both sides of the temple hall on raised pedestals of cloud shape. 28 images placed in a straight line in front of 1001 Kannon statues are guardian deities which protect the Buddhist deity Kannon. The temple is open everyday from 8 am to 5 pm. Admission fee is 600 JPY.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • joiwatani's Profile Photo

    Visit the Sanjusandengo Temple

    by joiwatani Written Nov 1, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Sanjusandengo Temple
    4 more images

    This temple is just across the Sansumo Art Museum. While we were on the street waiting in line (the line is outrageously long that the line went all the way to the street), I saw the cement walls of the Sandusandengo Temple. It's kind of difficult to pronounce the name but you will get use to it.

    The temple is beautiful. It's our first day in Kyoto and our first visit for the day is actually the Sansumo National Art Museum. But this temple is just across the street. We went to check it out but wasn't so much interested to get inside their temple because the fee is expensive.

    However, my sisters and I decided to take pictures of the temple outside and visit other temples. Not sure if I could give you more detailed description of the temple except the outside of the temple.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • daryll's Profile Photo

    1001 Kannon Statue

    by daryll Written Dec 4, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Red striking colour corridor

    Translate"hall with thirty-three spaces between the columns."
    Considered one of Kyoto most well preserved temple.

    Reason why you should go:
    1. Contained 1001 Kannon Statue of Goddes of Mercy which all made from wood carving.
    (Unfortunately photography is prohibited in this temple; but it looks amazing)
    2. Red Striking colour of the exterior Temple creating a wonderful perspective if looking the corridors.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • RACCOON1's Profile Photo

    SANJUSANGEN-DO TEMPLE

    by RACCOON1 Updated Oct 16, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sanjusangen-Do
    2 more images

    Buddhist Temple founded in 1164 with the present stucture from 1266. Over 100 meters long . Entry fee 600 yen , and open 8 am to 5 pm. Not exceptionally crowded .

    Shoes off to entre. No photos inside.Length of temple makes for diifficult photography anyway.

    What's inside see Photo # 3.
    One large Kannon ( Goddess of Mercy ) flanked on either side by 500 times two smaller Kannons. In addition there are 24 Buddhist Dieties. All dating from the 12th or 13th century.

    Thie is not a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.

    Was this review helpful?

  • kevarms's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangen-do (Rengeo-in)

    by kevarms Written Nov 11, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This temple is home to 1001 statues of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kannon. Each one is subtly unique and, lined up in ranks, brings to mind the Terracotta Army. The statues were first commissioned in 1164, mostly destroyed in a fire in 1249 but rebuilt by 1266 and put in a new building.
    The western veranda was popular for samurais to practice archery. In a competition known as 'Toshiya' the object was to fire an arrow down the 100+ metre length of the building without hitting a pillar. This is re-enacted annually every January 15th.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • konniemario's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangendo

    by konniemario Written Oct 9, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Exterior of the Sanjusangendo

    This is the very first temple we visited because it's located very near the ryokan we're staying. The temple's name refers to the 33 bays between the pillars of this long, narrow building that houses 1000-armed Kannon. It's very quiet inside the temple and no one is allowed to take pictures inside.

    At the back of the hall are 28 guardian statues in a great variety of expressive poses. Each one of them would have an explanation both in Japanese and English. The gallery on the western side is famous for its annual achers competition and this ceremony dates back to the Edo period.

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Blatherwick's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangen-Do

    by Blatherwick Updated May 10, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sanjusangen-Do

    This temple possesses 1000 gold-plated, full-size statues within its walls. For some reason this place reminded me of the Terracotta Warriors in China. Ya, ya... I know that I'm not supposed to take pictures in there as it is a sacred place. However, how do suppose they came to get the holy post cards outside?

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • naruto's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangendo - Hall of 33 Gen

    by naruto Written Jan 22, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1001 Statues of Kannon

    This place is AWE-some.

    Sanjusangendo is one of two places that really left an impression on me in Kyoto.

    The official name for the temple is Rengeo-in (Temple of the Lotus King), but it is popularly known as Sanjusangendo for its famous 1001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. The statues are housed in the main building which from the outside did not look like much except at 390 feet in length, extremely looonnnngggg.......

    But wait til you get inside to view the statues.
    One giant Kannon sits in the middle, flanked on each side by 500 slightly smaller statues, all of them in neat rows side by side. The smaller statues are as tall as a human.

    When one enters the hall, you are struck by the silence even though there are sizable crowds inside admiring the statues. The sight must had been overwhelmingly awe-inspiring. It definitely was for me.

    The front row of deities nearest to the visitors are identified individually by plagues naming them with info about them, e.g Wind God, Thunder God, etc. Very interesting history/religious lesson.

    There is no photography allowed in the main hall, so the photo on the left is of one of many postcards I bought at their gift corner.

    Sanjusangendo is not on the list of UNESCO World Heritage site, but it may be in the future. It is one of Kyoto's gems.

    NOTE:
    Sanjusangendo means the "Hall of 33 gen", 33 being an auspicious number in Buddhism. It is taught that the Goddess of Mercy will come to the aid of man in times of distress, incarnated as one of 33 different shapes on its mission of mercy.
    (Gen is the length between two architectural pillars.)

    Entrance Fee: 600 yen
    Opening Hours: 8am-4:30pm (9am - 4:30pm in the winter months)

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • tompt's Profile Photo

    Sanju-sangen-do

    by tompt Updated Aug 7, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sanju-sangen-do

    The official name of this temple is Rengeo-in. But the popular name Sanju-sangen-do is coming from the form of the main hall. It means a hall with 33 spaces between columns. If that was all it was it was not worth visiting. But inside the hall you will find 1001 images of Kannon, a buddhist deity. A Thjousand standing Kannon and one gigantic sitting image. The statues are made of Japanese cypress and painted. 124 statues are from the 12th century and the others from the 13th century when the hall was renovated. In front of the Kannon are even more statues. There are 30 guardian deities, at one side the god of thunder and at the other side the god of wind. Both gods were worshipped as deities who controlled weather and brought good harvest. The statues are from the Kamakura period (12th-14th century)

    The temple was established by a powerfull warrior-politician Taira-no-Kiyomori in 1164. The original building was destroyed by fire, but was reconstructed in 1266. Since then it underwent 4 major reconstructions. The hall is 120 meter long.

    It is open from 9:00 to 16:00.
    Admission fee is 600 Yen

    Was this review helpful?

  • bonio's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangen-do

    by bonio Written Mar 26, 2003

    This is a hall containing over 1000 statues of a Buddhist Goddess - an awesome and just a little scary sight! All of them are different too. An amazing place to visit. Remember to take your shoes off before you enter and no photos inside, this one borrowed from their brochure.....

    Was this review helpful?

  • sunnywong's Profile Photo

    Sanjusangendo Hall

    by sunnywong Written Feb 25, 2003

    Extending 125 metres from north to south, with 33 intervals between the pillars, this is the longest wooden structure in the world. Founded in 1164 by order of retired emperor Goshirakawa. The central image is a seated figure of the Kannon with 11 faces and 1000 arms (goddess of mercy: a National Treasure). This is flanked by 28 deities (all National Treasures) that usually accompany the main Kannon image and embody virtues such as exorcism of evil spirits, etc. There are also 1000 smaller standing statues of the Thousand-armed Kannon.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Kyoto

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

53 travelers online now

Comments

View all Kyoto hotels