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Sanjusangendo Temple

The temple was originally built in 1164 AD at the request of the emperor. This is the outside of the hall which holds the treasures of Sanjusangendo. Enormously long, it has stood for over 700 years. The courtyard outside the hall is quite serene and picturesque.

Here is a small wash basin, of a type which is normally found outside any temle or shrine. To purify yourself you scoop up water with a wooden spoon and pour it over your hands. The clothing on the statues is significant. The red on these is an offering for all unborn fetuses.

The adjacent hall along the courtyard is very impressive. It holds several small shrines, but the real treasure lies inside the main hall.

"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. It was an amazing sight.

This is the central Kanon statue.

Thirty statues stand in front of the 1,001 statues of Kannon-Bosatsu. Two of them are the gods of wind and thunder, the others are spirits called "Ninju-hachibushu". They attend to Kannon-Bosatsu and through which qualities such as beauty, wisdom, prosperity, etc. are deified.
(God of Thunder)

Sanjusangendo Temple is not to be
missed if you are visiting Kyoto!


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