Kyoto is one of Japan’s most well-known cities. The city itself has a rich history and each separate temple, shrine, and castle has its own history. Whether you are in Kyoto to shop or to sight-see, there is something for everyone here. Sanjusangendo Temple is part of the Myoho-in temple which is a part of the Tendai school of Buddhism. The temple was named after the architecture, there is thirty three spaces between the columns lining the long hall.
Named after its unique architecture, Sanjusangendo Temple actually has another name as well, Rengeo-in. It was originally built by Taira no Kiyomori for the then retired emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164. Unfortunately in 1249, the entire complex burned down and only the main hall was rebuilt.
One day supposedly a duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Yoshioka Denshichiro took place just outside of the Sanjusangendo Temple following the end of the Sengoku period and the start of the Tokugawa Shogunate. This famous encounter between these two famous warriors was also depicted in the film “Duel at Ichijoji Temple”. Sanjusangendo Temple is also famous for the archery contests, the most famous is the Toshiya tournament. This tournament started back in the Edo period. Another event is the Rite of the Willow, which takes place in January. This event involves the use of a sacred willow branch to cure and prevent headaches.
The main temple building that was rebuilt in 1266, it has remained unchanged for over 700 years. The long temple is characterized by its overall length and ranks as Japan’s longest wooden structure at about 120 meters in length. The design of the temple comes from the Wayo style and features 33 spaces in between columns, hence the name Sanjusangendo or in English “A hall with 33 intervals”.
The inside of this building contains 1,001 statues of Kannon. The temple was dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon and prominently features this Buddhist deity. The 1,001 carved figures date back to about the 12th and 13th century, standing on one end of the hall and looking down gives an impressive view. Also here is a large seated statue of Kannon which is recognized as a Japanese National Treasure.
Since the inside of the temple is the main attraction, it is recommended to visit anytime of the year. The 1,001 statues will remain unchanged. Getting to the temple is very convenient because it is only a short walk from Kyoto Station.
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Address: 657 Sanjusangendo-mawari, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto
Access: 20 minute walk from Kyoto Station
Hour: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
600 yen (Adults)
400 yen (Children)
Website: Sanjusangendo Temple (Japanese)