Kannon has quickly become my favorite buddhist bodhisattva during my time in Japan. She is affiliated with mercy and is usually depicted as a woman. Because buddhism derives from Hinduism and is a multi cultural belief system, there are many different names for each deity and Kannon is the Japanese name for the deity Guanyin, which is short for, Guanshiyinm, which means ‘Observing the cries of the world.’ In some ways I affiliate Kannon with St. Jude since he is the patron saint of lost and desperate causes. Having learned this background, when I found out about the Sanjusangendo Hall I knew that I would definitely want to see what it had to offer.
*no photos were allowed inside the hall. Photo credit here.
Sanjusangendo Hall is a hall in Kyoto that has 1,000 identical statues of Kannon along with statues of protective deities. Each Kannon has 40 arms and each arm is said to hold the power of 25 worlds.
Photo credit here.
There is one larger central Kannon that has 11 faces and 100 arms (sounds weird but it really doesn’t look weird).
Central Kannon *photo credit here.
One of the things I liked so much about Sanjusangendo Hall was that it had plenty of signs written in English, specifically signs about what the protective deities were about. In most temples I’ve visited I’ve seen HUGE statues of warriors in different poses. I had learned that they were protective, but I didn’t know what each one represented. In the Sanjusangendo Hall there are several of these warriors and each one is described in detail.
Photo credit here.
Inside the main hall there are monks copying the Buddhist sutras, there are places to make offerings and pray and there are opportunities to purchase wood that will be included in the fire ceremony. I purchased a piece of wood and wrote my prayer on it – it will be burned during their next ceremony.
The grounds outside the Sanjusangendo Hall are nice – but the true beauty is in the main hall. For 600 yen its definitely worth viewing.