It took me until the fourth stay in Kyoto to finally visit the Sanjusangen-do. There are countless temples worth visiting in the historic capital of Kansai, and among these, Sanjusangendo sometimes sounds like a forgotten one, perhaps because its heart and soul, the statues, can't be taken in photos or videos by any visitor. Yet they are probably one of the most beautiful pieces a neophyte like me can have the opportunity to admire.
Because the preserved "33 intervals" temple's treasure is a collection of 1,001 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. On both sides of a gigantic and sublime representation of Senju Kannon (Kannon with a thousand arms and eleven heads), ten rows of 500 human scale statues guard the premises. At every interval, a bronze representation of another deity majestically welcomes visitors, who can admire the serenity that emanates from the whole.
Pictures are strictly prohibited, so here are the only official photos taken inside the Sanjusangen-do, from the website.
If you go to Kyoto during your trip to Japan, I definitely recommend you include this Kannon Temple in your itinerary.
Here are my pictures of and around Sanjusangen-do, which building turns to be the longest wooden building in Japan, with its 120 meters. The original structure, which dates from 1164, was rebuilt during the 13th century after being destroyed in a fire. At the time, the reconstruction was made of layers of clay and sand to protect it from earthquakes, which still works very well today!
How to get to Sanjusangendo
By bus -- #101, 206 or 208, Sanjusangendo-mae Station and 2 minute walk
By train (not JR) -- Keihan Line, Shichijo station and 5 minute walk
On foot -- From Kyoto station, count 20 minutes
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
¥600 (~US$ 5.50)
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
From April 1 to November 15: open daily from 8am to 5pm (last admission at 4:30pm)
From November 16 to March 31: open daily from 9am to 4pm (last admission at 3:30pm)
How long / when to visit
Allow about one hour on site