Most commonly referred to as ‘Sanjusangendo’, the properly named Rengeo-in is the longest wooden structure and second largest temple in Japan. Founded by the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1164, the impressively long ‘hondo’ main hall may appear somewhat subdued from the outside however inside, the temple houses 1001 golden ‘Kannon’ statues – Goddess of Mercy – and is without question one of Kyoto’s most spectacular sights.
In the centre of the hall, a large statue of ‘Senju Kanno’ (the 1000-Armed Kannon) is flanked by 500 more statues on each side. The statues don’t literally have 1000 arms but a crafty bit of number-crunching means that the 42 arms they do bear account for 1000 conceptually. Impressively over 100 of the statues date back to the original temple. Photographs are not permitted inside the temple meaning that prior to your visit, it’s hard to visualise the serene beauty that is housed inside. Often overlooked, Sanjusangendo should not be missed as is only 25-minutes walk from the more famous Kiyomizudera.
Apr. to mid-Nov.: 08:30-17:00 / mid-Nov. to Mar.: 09:00-16:00. Last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing
To reach Sanjusangendo from Kyoto Station, take either Bus No.100, 206 or 208 and disembark at the Hakubutsukan-Sanjusangendo-mae bus stop - 10 minutes / JPY230. Alternatively, it’s around 20 minutes on-foot from Kyoto Station