Sanjusangendo (Rengeo-in) was originally built by Taira no Kiyamori for retired emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164 and dedicated to Kannon. The temple features a huge hall containing 1,001 figures of Kannon carved in the 12th and 13th centuries.

"Sanjusangendo" means a hall with 33 bays. The number 33 is sacred in Buddhism, for it is believed that Buddha saves mankind by disguising himself in 33 different forms. The 33 bays hold 1,001 statues of Kannon-Bosatsu! Each small image is 5 1/2 feet tall, carved out of wood and leafed in gold. In the center, the principal image of Kannon is 11 feet tall.

The whole building covers 1001 Buddhist statues, making it one of the most impressive display of the kind in Japan (or even worldwide). The largest statue in the middle represents the Thousand-Armed Kannon (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy), although she actually has only 40 arms, each said to save 25 worlds.

Kannon is flanked by 500 smaller statues on each side. The statues are quite similar in size and appearance, but the facial traits of each of them is unique, and visitors like to compare them with family members or acquaintances.

28 very fierce-looking statues of Hindu gods (Buddhism being closely related to its parent Hinduism) are lined up in front of the 1000 buddhas and Kannon statues. They all have their name written in Kanji and romanized Sanskrit.

Sanjusangendo's principal Kannon image >>

The temple is situated in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto, opposite the Kyoto National Museum, and in 1604 was the scene of Miyamoto Musashi's famous duel with Yoshioka Denshichiro.

On 15 January, archers shoot arrows from the northern end to the southern end of the hall for the Toshi-ya Matsuri. This festival dates back to the Edo period.


657 Sanju-sangendo, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan.
Tel: +81-(0)75-561-0467

By Bus
Bus 206 or 208 from Kyoto station stop at Sanjusangendo-mae. You can also walk directly from Kyoto station (15min) or from the nearer Keihan Shiji-jo station.

Sanjusangen-do is open from 8am to 5pm from 1 Aptil to 15 November, and from 9am to 4pm the rest of the year. Entry cost Y600. Note that photographs are prohibited inside.