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For those who are thinking,

「What kind of place is the Sanjusangendo?」

「I wanna the history of the Sanjusangendo?」

then this article is for you!

Hello! WABI SABI here, to give foreign visitors the information you need in order to further enjoy Japan!

What we, the information brokers of Japan, would like to introduce to you in this article is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan, the Sanjusangendo!

Now let’s get right into it!

What Kind Of Place Is The Sanjusangendo?

The Sanjusangendo is a historical and national treasure located in Kyoto.

A wooden construction of this size is rare even in the whole world as it is 120m in length, 22m in depth, and 16m in height with 33 pillars as well.

The number of pillars, 33, has a special meaning to it. It is said that this many pillars were made in accordance with the 33 forms the Avalokiteśvara took.

Furthermore, there are 1001 Buddha statues decorated in the main hall. The sight of this is absolutely stunning.

It has gained the status of Japan’s representative tourist spot as many tourists, domestic and international, come just to see it once.

The History Of Its Construction

In the background of the construction of the Sanjusangendo, it is said that Heisei Kiyomori was founded in the late Heian period, 1164, by the application of Emperor Goshirakawa.

However, as has burned down once before, the current one we see today is a reconstruction constructed in 1266 during the Kamakura period.

The Charm Of The Sanjusangendo

In this part, we will list off the charms of the national treasure that keep many charmed!

The Thousand Armed Kannon Statue(National Treasure)

One of the charms of Sanjusangendo is the Thousand Armed Kannon statue!

The Thousand Armed Kannon statue was constructed in the late Kamakura period and it is 3m in size with gilded all over. It is also recognized as a national treasure.

Here is a fun fact about the Thousand Armed Kannon statue: There are many hands around the statue. The total number of hands is 42 and it is sad that these 42 hands are supposed to represent 1000 hands!

Why not try to count them all yourself when you visit?!

The 1000 1000-Armed Kannon Statues(Important Cultural Property)

Another one of the Sanjusangendo’s charm points is the 1000 1000-Armed Kannon statues that are recognized as important cultural property.

They were constructed during the time from the Heian period to the Kamakura period by many famous buddhist sculptors such as Unkei and Kaikei.

As the name implies there are exactly 1000 statues and it is said that among them is one that looks like the person that you want to meet.

When you visit, why not look for the statue that looks like the person you want to meet?!

The Thunder God And Wind God Statues(National Treasures)

The last charm points of the Sanjusangendo are the Thunder God and Wind God statues.

The statues are recognized as national treasures and they won’t stop charming those who visit.

By the way, do you know what kind of gods are the Thunder God and Wind God?

Both gods rule over rain, and are known for bringing good fortune to farming.

In contrast to that, they were also feared by the people of the time as gods who would also bring intense thunder and high winds.

Annual Activities To See

Tōshiya

A big event called the “Tōshiya” is held annually at the Sanjusangendo.

The event is held in the west yard of the Sanjusangendo and whoever shoots the most arrows within 24 hours is the winner!

The way participants are judged are based on not if the arrow hit their marks, but whether or not the arrow has gotten to the other side of the yard.

The best record in history was 13053 arrows in 24 hours, which is basically 1 arrow every 10 seconds.

Nothing else can be said other than “amazing”!

Yanagi-no-Okaji

Another event that is held annually at the Sanjusangendo is the Yanagi-no-Okaji.

It is held in mid-January and when you pour water on you head with a willow branch during the event, it is said that it will cure headaches.

Around 20000 people participate in this event every year, making it the most popular event held at Sanjusangendo.

Facility Info

Rengeoin Sanjusangendo

  • Address:657 Sanjusangendomawari, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0941
  • Telephone Number:075-561-0467
  • Business Hours:8:00~17:00(※Reception ends 30 early)
  • Regular Holidays:No holidays for the whole year
  • Official Homepage:Rengeoin Sanjusangendo

Visiting Prices

  • Adults:600yen
  • Middle・High School Students:400yen
  • Children:300yen

Access Info

  • From the Kyoto Station, ride the city buses 100, 206, or 208 for 15 minutes, then get off at the bus stop “Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo mae” and walk for a minute.
  • Walk for 7 minutes from the Keihan Shichijo Station.
  • There is a parking lot(50 spaces)(Free)