Sanjusangendo Hall

Sasjusangendo 400
Sanjusangendo Hall
Photo by: AlbertoCarrasco, Creative Commons

Most structures have elaborate and complex designs on the outside, but this is not the case with Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Outside the temple, you will see a very simple and modest deign, as if it is just an ordinary wooden structure. But what makes it a main attraction in Japan is the interior part or the Sanjusangendo Hall.

This austere and simple structure was built a long time ago in 1164 by Goshirakawa, the then emperor of Japan. However, the building has to be reconstructed in 1266 after the original one was completely destroyed by fire. What you can see today is the building that has been reconstructed in 1266.

This is the longest building in Japan that is made of wood, with a length of 394 feet (120 meters). The outside is not so impressive, except for the length. But when you go inside, your eyes should be ready with what you will see. The Sanjusangendo Hall houses 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy in Buddhism.

The focal point s the main statue of Kannon, that stands at 6 feet in height. In Buddhism, Kannon has 1000 arms and 11 faces. Her statue in Sanjusangendo Hall is considered as a National Treasure. The Kannon statues are masterpieces of a well-known sculptor in Japan, Tankei.

The other Kannon statues are life-sized, smaller than the major Kannon statue, and they have 40 arms each. It was said that each arm can save 25 different worlds. It was also believed that the goddess of mercy can transform into a total of 33 different shapes, and the architects of the temple based the number of hall’s pillars on this number, which means the temple also has 33 pillars.

Whether you are a Buddhist or not, you will still be amazed by the rows and rows of Kannon statues inside the longest wooden structure in Japan.

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