Sanjusangendo Temple is a Japanese gem known for its multiple statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It contains the longest wooden hall in the country, where the carved figures stand. Its grounds evoke tranquility among its organized buildings. As the historic site of dueling swordsmen, archery and fires, the Sanjusangen Temple attracts both regular tourists and those with a real interest in history. This is a place to marvel at the ingenuity of Japanese sculptors from ancient times.
Walk across the main hall, which is Japan’s longest wooden structure at 395 feet (120 meters). The complex takes it name from the number of intervals between the columns supporting the long building. This is a traditional method of measuring the length of structures in Japan.
Take the afternoon to peruse the 1,001 statues of the goddess of mercy, Kannon. In the center of the great hall sits a large version of the deity, while rows of human-sized statues line the flanks. She is said to have 1,000 arms and 11 heads, although the actual figures have one head each and 42 arms. They were carved in the 13th century from cypress wood.
Discover the grounds, which include a serene pond and a well. A touch of wildlife with green trees and bushes decorate the gardens. Walk around the complex to encounter serenity and elegance.
Originally founded in 1164, the temple had to be rebuilt after fires. It is the site of a famous 17th-century duel between swordsmen. There are archery contests held at the temple.
The shrine is situated in the Higashiyama Ward in the northeast of the city, and there are many magnificent temples in the district. Take a bus to Hakubutsukan–Sanjusangendo-mae bus stop. You can get there easily from Kyoto Station on several different buses. The temple is only a few minutes on foot from Shichijo Station on the Keihan Line of the subway system. The Kyoto National Museum is nearby.
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