We caught a cab outside of Ginkaku-ji and drove south to Sanjūsangen-dō. We had planned to visit before catching our train the next day as it is near Kyoto Station but taking cabs around the city in the morning had saved us a lot of time so we could fit it in. Since the historic sights around Kyoto are spread across the city, we would normally just take public transportation to visit them but since we only had 1 full day in Kyoto, we wanted to make the most of it so we splurged on cabs.
Back to the main thing: Sanjūsangen-dō. The temple has a few distinctions, namely that it is the longest wooden building in Japan and that it contains 1000 individual Kannon statues in 10 rows of 100 columns.
These statues date from the 13th century, as does the hall, which was rebuilt after a fire that destroyed the original that had been built in the 1100s. This is the main temple tall – it really is a very long building!
Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the main building but you can find lots of official pictures by doing a search. We also had to take our shoes off (understandably) to enter the main building and the slippers available were a bit short for all of us but they worked.
It was remarkable to continue walking for the length of the immense main hall and see statue after statue. If you aren’t familiar with Kannon, the short background is that she is the Goddess of Mercy in Buddhism. She has more than 2 arms to enable her to help more people. 🙂
The grounds were fair game for photo-taking so I took advantage of that as we walked around. This gateway near the entrance to the facility was a bright orange – enough to rival my German friend’s hat.
It was actually very beautiful and a fresh contrast between the subdued browns, blues, and whites of the other buildings. The well pictured here is said to have the power to quiet infants crying in the night. I’m sure lots of parents could use that!
Further along the path from the well, we came across the large temple bell.
The bell is located near the end of the main hall. We entered the hall from the opposite side to view the Kannon statues housed within.
Coming around to the sunny side of the building, it was easy to see just how massive the structure is.
Before leaving, we took a look at a gateway immediately to the right of the entrance to the main hall.
I really like the details on the roof.
It really is impressive to see such structures that have survived for centuries. In the U.S. we celebrate centenaries and bicentennials; in Kyoto, the train station was constructed on the 1200th anniversary of the city’s founding as the capital. Yes, that’s right – a one thousand and two hundred year anniversary.
I’m splitting off our Gion District visit into a Part 4 post so stay tuned for that. For now, I’ll leave you with more fall colors spied at the Sanjūsangen-dō.
See you soon!