1001 statues of the 1000-armed and 1000-bodied Kannon
Higashiyama-ku is one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a hub of historical buildings, including Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji, and Yasakajinja. Even among them, Sanjusangen-do is a popular destination for tourists that was given three stars in the Michelin guide. The sitting statue of Senju Kannon, which is the principal object of worship in Sanjusangen-do, is enshrined in the Buddhist temple. The statue, which is made of wood, is a designated National Treasure. On both sides of the sitting statue of Senju Kannon are Buddhist altars shaped like stairs, which are adorned with 1000 life-size wooden statues of the 1000-armed Senju Kannon. One more statue is located behind the enshrined sitting statue of Senju Kannon, making a total of 1001 life-sized statues of Senju Kannon, all of which are designated as Important Cultural Properties.
The many highlights of Sanjusangen-do
Although Sanjusangen-do is known for the sitting statue of Senju Kannon and the 1001 life-sized statues of the 1000-armed Kannon, there are other National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties that are not be missed. Statues of the God of Wind and the God of Lightning are featured on the left and the right as you enter the temple. These statues are unique, as the God of Wind holds a bag that contains the wind, and the God of Lightning holds a drum that releases lightning. In front of the statue of Senju Kannon are 28 wooden sculptures known as Nijuhachi-bushu, which are the guardian deities that protect those who believe in Senju Kannon. The 28 statues each have different facial expressions and gestures, and their roles as deities differ too. The main temple building, the sitting statue of Senju Kannon, the statues of the Gods of Wind and Lightning, and the 28 wooden statues are all designated National Treasures. The powerful wooden statues, which look like they could come alive at any minute, are the real highlight. Sanjusangen-do is like a museum of Buddhist statues where you can take a leisurely tour of the historical Kamakura period building and the Buddhist statues.