Sanjusangen Temple

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Why the
Sanjusangen Temple
is special

Its 700-year-old main hall houses one of the most amazing statue collections in the world.

Sanjusangen Temple
tips and insights

Kannon statues

Kannon is the Buddhist thousand-armed bodhisattva of mercy. The hall sports 1001 of her statues.

Main and largest one

A seated Kannon is positioned in the middle of the Sanjusangen Hall.

The other 1,000

These figures are gilded, life sized, and flank either side of the main statue. Both sides have 50 rows and 10 columns in tight formation. Each of the 1,000 images has a unique facial expression. Some visitors play the game of spotting faces that resemble people they know.

In addition, there are figures of Buddhist deities and guardians.


The narrow wooden Sanjusangen Hall is 118 meters (394 feet) long. It was originally built in 1164. After burning down in 1249, it was rebuilt in 1266. The fire destroyed 878 of the 1000 statues, so they had to be replaced during the reconstruction.


Sanjusangen is the popular moniker (nowadays, few people use the official name, Rengeo-in). Sanjusangen translates "33 spaces between columns", referring to the distance between the building's support pillars.

Location in Japan

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