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Experience serenity and historic grandeur at the Sanjusangendo Hall
Inside the temple, you will see 1001 carved statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. They are carved in Japanese cypress and are covered in gold leaf. In front of them are statues of 28 Buddhist deities who are the protectors of the universe. Other statues include the carvings of two temple guards, protecting the temple and the statues of the god of thunder (Raijin) and the god of wind (Fujin). Since this temple is a reconstruction of the original temple that was burnt in the fire; many of the original statues were burnt up. Around 24 statues were successfully rescued from the fire while the rest were recreated in that period. Interestingly, these statues date back to the year 1164, when the original temple was built.
Among the 1001 statues of Senju Kannon housed by the Sanjusangendo hall, is the magnanimous, life-sized statue, as tall as 11 feet in the center. The deities guard this principal statue. The wondrous seated carving of Kannon has 11 faces and 1000 arms. It is named as Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara or the 1000 armed Kannon. The statue was carved by Tankei in the year 1254. It has made its space in the National Treasure of Japan.
Keeping the aesthetics in mind the temple premises has been well ornamented with gravel and beautiful trees and plants. A huge and beautifully decorated Temple bell made of brass hangs in the garden area under a shed. A small shinto shrine can also be seen on the eastern side of the temple hall. The garden is an ideal location for the annual archery festival held every January. The competitors are supposed to target the arrow at a distance of 60 m. The significance of this competition is to teach patience and concentration to adults.
How to Get Tickets?
Visitors pay an entry fee of Y600 to visit this temple. Tickets are available on the ticket counter at the entrance and can be booked online as well through several websites.
How To Get Around?
The Temple premise is easily accessible on foot. The temple visit is not too tiring and a little walk is always healthy. Besides, the garden and the insides of the temple are so beautiful that you never realize any effort. There are rules to be followed inside the temple, though. Shoes must be removed and deposited at the cubbies provided before entering the temple hall.
What Should I Wear?
Restrictions on clothes have not been mentioned by the temple authority. You can wear anything according to your comfort. People usually wear sober casuals following the ethnicity of a temple. However, for some good clicks around the cherry blossoms, you do want to be a bit fancy.
Best Time to Visit
The Sanjusangendo hall is open for all from morning 8 am until evening 5 pm from April to October. The timings, however, change in the winter season from November to March to 9 am in the morning and 4 pm in the evening. Any time of the year is good to visit the temple. However, given the popularity, it gets really crowded at times. It is best to visit the temple in the mornings to enjoy the serenity and to give yourself good enough time to admire the place.
Will I Need a Guide?
The temple hall is pretty much simple to browse around. Though huge in size, there is little chance that you may lose your way out. The temple authorities and caretakers have their eyes on the convenience of the visitors. There is no need for any guide. Even the garden area is pretty simple to get around on your own. You must maintain the serenity and cleanliness of the place to preserve its beauty.
How To Get There?
Public transportation like buses will take you to this splendid historical place. The nearest bus stop is Hakubutsukan-Sanjusangendo-mae, 10 minutes from the Kyoto Station. Bus numbers 100,206 and 208 will take you to the place at the cost of Y230 from the Kyoto station. You can also make it on foot from the Kyoto station, which is a good 20 minutes walk or from the Shichijo station, which is just 5 minutes walk, along the Keihan Line.
Given the beauty, elegance, and grandeur of the place, you do get inclined to take loads of photographs, especially, of the magnificent golden statues. To your disappointment, this is not permitted. No photography is allowed inside the temple hall. This is to ensure the maintenance of peace and the sanctity of the temple. To take back memories of the place you can purchase postcards and other artifacts from the temple gift shop. In any case, whatever you have captured in your eyes will stay with you forever. You can take photographs in the garden area though. Facilities like washrooms and drink machines are also available on the premises.