The mysterious statues of Sanjusangendo
There are 1001 of them!
In Kyoto you need to make choices. And choices are always tough.
But if there is one place you should not forget to visit, this is it: Sanjusangendo.
Why is it so different, or more Japanese than any other sites in Kyoto? gold pagoda, silver pagoda, Ryoanji and Kyomizudera. It's the atmosphere. You need to feel it by yourself to know that this place is for real, not for tourism (although it might be tough to forget the tourists - so pick up your time carefully)
Sanjusangendo is the nickname of this Buddhist temple. Its real name is Rengeo-in, Hall of the Lotus King. It's as difficult to pronounce but with some practice, you will be fine with Sanjusangendo. Where does it come from? You see, sanjusan means 33. "gen" means "space" and do means "hall". The nicknames comes from the 33 spaces between pillars that are along the main hall. There are 33 of them. I've counted them.
Sanjusangendo was built by aira no Kiyomori in the 12th century. The hall has welcomed a Kyudo tournament knows as Toshiya since Edo period (17th). You can actually see the places where arrows have hit the wood at the end of this long hall.
There are 1001 bodisatvas, all different from one another and there are 28 guardians. If you are lucky, you will have the occasion to attend a ceremony, which is always a marvelous experience. Monks in vivid green attire, incense, and prayers are all you need to engage in this mystic place.
Take the time to watch the statues as individual and to take a walk in the garden along the hall. Go early in the morning, late at night, try to avoid tourist hours and Sanjusangendo will deliver its secret