The Sanjusangen-do Temple, which contains a vast line of statues of the deity Kannon, is officially known as the Tendai Shoumyou-in, and the name Sanjusangen-do actually corresponds to the main temple hall. This temple was completed by Taira no Kiyomori under orders of the emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164. Following this it suffered a devastating fire but was rebuilt in 1266. The temple’s name literally means "Hall with thirty-three spaces between columns" which refers to the number of columns and gaps running from north to south in the temple’s main hall. The name is also derived from the fact that the temple’s main deity Kannon is said to have incarnated in 33 different bodies.
The 1001 bodies of Kannon
The principle idol is held in the main hall, and there in an additional 1000 idols enclosing it. It’s said that among the idols you’ll find someone who looks like somebody you want to meet, and you might even find that one that just looks just like you, so carefully look the idols over. Kannon wears 11 different faces and has 400 arms, and the array of figures is overwhelming. Out of the 1000 figures about 124 of them are from the foundation during the Heian Period (794-1185) and the remainder is reconstructions from 16 years in the Kamakura period. 500 of the statues have the author’s names on them. Additionally in front of the Kannons there are national treasures such as Fujin Raijin and Nijuhachi Bushu.
Ever since the Momoyama period (1573-1603) in the main hall there was a "Toshiya" contest in which a bow is shot 120m. In the Edo period (from 1603-1868), the even "Oyakazu" was held from one evening to the evening of the next day in which archers would shoot as many arrows as possible in a 24-hour period. Toshiya itself is no longer held, but every year in January there is a national archery tournament that is held that is based on it, at the shooting range near the main temple hall which is about 60m in distance. Attendance to the tournament is free.
From the JR Kyoto station you can take a city bus to the Hakubutsukan- Sanjusangen-do-mae Bus Stop (博物館三十三間堂前) and it’s right there. 7 minute walk from the Keihan line "Shichijo Station" (七条駅).
From 11/16 until March, tour hours become 9:00~16:00.
Description: Sanjusangen-do Temple
|Sights||Sanjusangen-do Temple (三十三間堂(蓮華王院))|
657 Sanjusangendo Mawaricho, Kyoto 605-0941, Kyoto Prefecture
|Phone / Fax||Phone: 075-561-0467 / Fax: 075-561-6698|
Monday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Tuesday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Wednesday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Thursday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Friday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Saturday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Sunday:08:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
|Closed dates||7 days open|
|Admission Fee||Pay admission: 600yen|
Spring (March - May)Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
|Recommended target||Family Couples Groups Infant & Toddler (ages 0-6) Child (ages 7-17) Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller|