Sanjusangen-do Temple (Kannon Bosatsu,location,history)

Sanjusangen-do Temple, Kannon Bosatsu

The information about Sanjusangen-do Temple is presented here. Sanjusangen-do has 34 pillars in the inner sanctuary and 33 (三十三) spaces between the pillars. The “thirty-three (三十三)” in Sanjusangen-do Temple (三十三間堂) is derived from the “Hengashin Sanjusangeshin (変化身三十三身)” of Kannon Bosatsu as described in the “Kannon Sutra” and other texts. It is said that Kannon Bosatsu hears people’s cries for help and relieves them of their suffering. Kannon Bosatsu is said to change into various forms depending on the person Kannon Bosatsu is saving.

【Sanjusangen-do Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 657 Sanjusangenndo-mawarimachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Hakubutsukan-sanjusangendo-mae bus stop (about 2 minutes on foot), Higashiyama Nanajo bus stop (about 4 minutes on foot), Keihan Shichijo Station (about 8 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 9:00-16:00(Nov.16th-Mar.)8:30-17:00(Apr.-Nov.15th)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 600 yen, High School and Junior High School Students 400 yen, Children 300 yen

【Sanjusangen-do Temple History】

The site of Sanjusangen-do Temple (三十三間堂) was built is said to be the site of a private residence built by Fujiwara no Tamemitsu in 988. It is said that the 77th Emperor Go-Shirakawa built a villa called Hojuji-dono in 1156. Later, in 1160, Emperor Go-Shirakawa lived there, and it was also called Rengeoin Gosho (Imperial Palace). Emperor Go-Shirakawa ascended to the throne in 1155, but in 1158, after only three years, he abdicated to the 78th Emperor Nijo and began the imperial reign. In 1160, Ima Kumano Shrine and Ima Hie Jingu Shrine were founded as guardian shrines for Hojuji-dono. Sanjusangen-do Temple was founded on January 30, 1165, when Emperor Go-Shirakawa ordered Taira no Kiyomori to provide material support and build Rengeoin Butsuden as guardian temple for Hojuji-dono in a part of Hojuji-dono. By the way, the name of Rengeoin is said to be derived from a dream that the former life of Emperor Go-Shirakawa, who had headaches, was a monk in Kumano, Rengebo, whose skull sank into the Iwata-gawa River in Kumano, grew through the skull, and the willow swaying in the wind hit the skull. In 1183, Kiso Yoshinaka (Minamoto no Yoshinaka) attacked Emperor Go-Shirakawa in the Hojuji-Kassen (Hojuji Battle), which resulted in the burning of Hojuji-dono (villa), but Sanjusangen-do was spared. It is said that Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, repaired Sanjusangen-do in 1190. In 1192, Emperor Go-Shirakawa passed away, and his funeral was held at Sanjusangen-do according to his will. Hojuji-ryo (mausoleum), where Emperor Go-Shirakawa is buried, is located to the east of Sanjusangen-do Temple. In 1204, when the 83rd Emperor Tsuchimikado held a memorial service on the 13th anniversary of the death of Emperor Go-Shirakawa, Honen Shonin, the founder of the Jodo sect, performed the Rokuji-Raisan. In 1249, Sanjusangen-do was destroyed by the Kencho-no-taika (Kencho Great Fire). In 1254, the Buddhist sculptor Tankei carved the seated statue of Senju Kannon, the main image of Sanjusangen-do. In 1266, the 88th Emperor Go-Saga rebuilt the present Sanjusangen-do. During the Nanbokucho period (1337-1392), Sanjusangen-do Temple became the 17th of the Rakuyo Sanjusansho Kannon Reijo. It is said that Ashikaga Yoshinori, the sixth shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, restored Sanjusangen-do in 1433 and visited in 1437. Ashikaga Yoshinori became a monk as a child, became Tendai-zaisu (the head of the Tendai sect) in 1419, and became the sixth shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate by lot drawing at Ishimizu Hachiman Shrine in 1429. Ashikaga Yoshinori ordered Zen temples in Kyoto to repair Sanjusangen-do Temple, spending five years replacing the roof tiles and maintaining the statue of Buddha. In 1586, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi founded Hoko-ji Temple (Higashiyama Daibutsu), Sanjusangen-do was also incorporated into Houhiro-ji Temple, and the earthen walls and gates were constructed. In September 1595, Daibutsuden of Hoko-ji Temple was completed, and a memorial service was held by 1,000 monks. After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598, Hoko-ji Temple was administered by Myoho-in Temple, and Sanjusangen-do also belonged to Hoko-ji Temple. It is said that Senju Kannon was restored in 1600 by order of Toyotomi Hideyori, the son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is said that in 1606, Asaoka Shigemasa performed Toshiya (passing arrow) in Sanjusangen-do and earned the title of “Tenka Soichi”. There are records of Toshiya being performed even after that. In 1798, Daibutsuden of Hoko-ji Temple was destroyed by lightning, and many of the temple buildings, including the Nio-mon Gate and the Corridor, were also destroyed, but Sanjusangen-do was spared from fire. In 1895, Nishi-Daimon Gate of Sanjusangen-do Temple, which was built by Toyotomi Hideyori, was moved to To-ji Temple as Nan-daimon Gate. In 1951, Toshiya (Omato-taikai) was revived in Sanjusangen-do. Since 1973, 15 to 40 sentaibutsu (1,000 Buddha statues) have been restored each year, and the restoration was completed in 2017.
*reference・・・Sanjusangen-do Temple website

【Sanjusangen-do Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Rengeoin Hondo (Main Hall, 蓮華王院本堂, National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1266 by the 88th Emperor Go-Saga. Rengeoin Hondo is about 120 meters from north to south, about 22 meters deep, and about 16 meters high. Rengeoin Hondo houses the seated statue of Senju Kannon in the center, 1,000 standing statues of Senju Kannon (Sentaibutsu) on either side, and one standing statue of Senju Kannon behind it.
★Nandai-mon (Nandai-mon Gate, 南大門, Important Cultural Property) was built in 1600 by Toyotomi Hideyori, the son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Nandai-mon is said to be the remains of Hoko-ji Temple, which was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Momoyama period (1573-1603).
★The seated statue of Senju Kannon (千手観音) was carved by the Buddhist sculptor Tankei in 1254 at the age of 82. The seated statue of Senju Kannon is about 3.3 meters high, but when the base and other parts are included, it exceeds 7 meters. 1,001 standing statues of Senju Kannon were carved from the Heian period (794-1185) to the Muromachi period (1336-1573). 124 statues were carved in the Heian period, 876 in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), and one in the Muromachi period. 1,001 standing statues of Senju Kannon are about 1.6 meters high.
三十三間堂見どころ(Sanjusangen-do Temple Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Toshiya (passing arrow, 通し矢) is held every year on a Sunday near January 15th. In Toshiya, male and female archery practitioners who have reached adulthood and title holders compete in arms by shooting at a large target about 60 meters away. Toshiya is derived from Oyakazu, which was held under the eaves of the main hall of Rengeoin during the Edo period (1603-1868).
★Yanagi-no-Okaji (楊枝のお加持) is held every year on a Sunday near January 15. At Yanagi-no-Okaji, water that has been prayed for for seven days in front of the seated statue of Senju Kannon is poured on the worshippers using the Yanagi, which is said to be a sacred tree, to remove various diseases.
★Shunto-e (春桃会) is held every year on March 3rd. At Shunto-e is held on the Momo-no-Seku of March 3rd, and prays for a safe breath. Kenka-shiki (flower offering ceremony) and Hana-ten (flower exhibition) of Ikebo are held.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is from late March to early April. Weeping cherry trees, Yoko-zakura, Higan-zakura, Kawazu-zakura, Jugatsu-zakura, etc. are planted, and it is said that the scenery of cherry blossoms, To-tei, Rengeoin Hondo, and the vermilion-painted Todai-mon are beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-561-0467

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Sanjusangen-do Temple is to Myoho-in Temple, which is located to the northeast. Sanjusangen-do Temple is considered to be Butsuden outside the precincts of Myoho-in Temple, and visitors can learn about its connection to Myoho-in Temple. Around Sanjusangen-do Temple are Hoko-ji Temple, Toyokuni Shrine, Chishaku-in Temple, and Ima Hie Shrine, which are also recommended for a walk.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Sanjusangen-do Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山