Aug. 26, 2020 UPDATE
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple- 愛宕念仏寺 -
They have brochures in English and some people at the temple who can speak English. The temple is a bit far from the nearest station but can be accessed conveniently by bus.
Japanese and English
Japanese and English
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Story & Recommendation
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple is an amazing off the beaten path temple with 1200 humorous statues
The Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple in the Saga-Arashiyama area is known worldwide for its 1200 rakan statues of the disciplines of Buddha. Even those who have not heard of the temple have probably seen pictures of it on social media. The history of the temple starts already in 766, though not in Arashiyama but in Higashiyama. The temple met many natural disasters in its time, and at last the temple in disrepair was moved to its present place in 1922. This didn’t quite work out either, so in 1955 the priest and famous Buddha wood-carver of Kocho Nishimura got the job of restoring the temple. He is the one who came up with the idea to have the worshippers themselves make the rakan statues of which the temple is now so famous.
1200 rakan (stone figures)
In order to repair the temple, during the 10-year period from 1981 to 1991, Kocho Nishimura taught 1200 worshippers at the temple how to carve these rakan statues. If you look behind one, you can see the name of the person who made that statue. By now most of the statues are covered in moss making them fit into the nature surrounding the temple.
Main hall of the temple
The main hall of the shrine is an Important Cultural Property originally from the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333). What makes this main hall special is that you can get to see the statues of Buddha inside it up close; though it may be a good idea to maintain some distance as they look quite fragile.
Touch Fureai Kannon
The Fureai Kannon is a Buddhist statue for blind people. The monk at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji noticed that there were no statues for blind people, which is why he had this statue made in the beginning of the 90’s. There is even an explanation of the Fureai Kannon in Braille on the wall. One thing that is special about this temple is that you can take pictures of the statues; normally most temples don’t permit this.
Ring the bells
Ring the bell of Sanbo no Kane, of the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (community). By ringing these three bells you can call the Buddha to the natural world. The sound of the bells is quite majestic so don’t use too much strength.
- Manner & Tips -
You can enter the buildings on the premises, but take off your shoes before you do so.