Sanjūsangen-dō – Kyoto, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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Kyoto, Japan


1001 carved statues of the Buddhist God of Mercy, each with a unique face. 

The Sanjūsangen-dō, or Hall of 33 Bays (the spaces between columns), in Kyoto is a 390 foot long wooden building built in 1266. Officially known as Rengeo-in, this Tendai Buddhist temple houses 1001 gold-leafed cypress wood statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, each with a unique face.

Photography is not allowed inside the temple. The building itself is so long that it is used as a measure of distance for the Tōshiya archery tournament held every second Sunday in January. On the tournament day, the priests also conduct the Rite of the Willow, in which penitents are touched on the head with wands of willow, said to be a ward against headaches.

Fans of the manga Vagabond or the epic novel Musashi will know the tale of the battle between a young Miyamoto Musashi and Yoshioka Denshichirō, which is said to have taken place in the courtyard alongside the Sanjusangendo in 1604.

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