Travel

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Kyoto has so many great sights to offer, but there are some less known gems you should check out as well. They are well worth it! Like Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in the neighborhood of the famous Arashiyama.

Visited: October 4th 2014

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Why You Should Visit Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) is located near Kyoto’s famous Arashiyama area, so it’s worth checking out if you’re nearby.

The interesting thing about this temple is that you can find over 1200 rakan (千二百羅漢) stone statues there, representing disciples of Shaka, the founder of Buddhism. Each of them has a unique and rather funny expression. It’s a great opportunity to take hilarious photos!

 

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

The statues are rather new as they were donated from 1981-1991 (you’ll even find a statue with a tennis racket!).

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

But as most of them are covered in moss, they look much older in my eyes.

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Most were carved by amateurs from all over the world.

 

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

History of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

It’s a Buddhist Temple found by Empress Shotoku in the middle of the eighth century. The temple has been damaged several times throughout history by natural disasters (typhoon, flooding) and war.

 

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Access to the Temple

Take “Kyoto Bus” # 64, 74, 84 and 94 bound for “Kiyotaki” (清滝行) and get off at “Otagidera-mae” (おたぎでら前).

The bus is leaving from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, Kyoto Sanjo Sta., JR Kyoto Sta. and from a bus stop called “No no Miya” (野の宮) near (5 mins walk) Saga-Arashiyama Station’s south exit.

More info can be found on the official website.

 

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Finding Yourself

Once you’re at the temple you can enjoy the funny expressions of all 1200 rakan statues.

Somebody once told me that there’s always one statue that looks a bit like yourself. Try to find it!

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Considering there are well over a thousand, there’s gotta be one, right?

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

On the left photo you see Kokuzo Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of space, representing “vast and boundless” wisdom of the whole universe.

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

There’s a tiny red pagoda surrounded by the rakan statues.

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

The main hall was built in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and is an Important Cultural Property. Inside you’ll find a Yaku-yoke Senju Kannon (a thousand-armed Kannon statue).

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Some statues seem really happy about the coins they received. ;)

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

The one of the right might have been one of my favorites.

 

Nearby Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

Really close to Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple (化野念仏寺, 9:00-16:30, 500 yen).

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

It’s not that interesting in terms of stone statues, but it has a beautiful bamboo forest!

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto

It’s really just a short walk from the other temple along the beautiful “Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street” which has been preserved in the style of the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

 

Visiting both temples makes a nice afternoon stroll if you’re in the Arashiyama region already.

Tourist Information:
Opening Hours:
8:00-17:00 (admission until 16:45)
Holidays:
none
Entrance fee:
300 yen (kids up to jr. high free)
Time required:
10 mins (more if you want to really check out all the expressions and take photos of them)
Contact:
(+81)075-865-1231, 1200rakan@otagiji.com
Access:
Take a “Kyoto Bus” from various locations in Kyoto and Arashiyama bound for “Kiyotaki” and get off at “Otagidera-mae”.
Please note: Prices as well as opening hours / holidays are subject to change. Please make sure to follow the provided link to the official website to check out the latest updates.

9 Comments

  • Wow! This is a great find. That’s the thing with Kyoto, there’s so much going on there that it’s really easy to miss stuff like this. On my ‘to do’ list for the next visit. Hope it isn’t too far away!

    • Wow, Tam, that’s an amazing activity guide.
      The only thing I’m really still missing myself is going to the Ogasawara Islands, so I’m jealous you got to go. ^___^

      And thanks for mentioning me there. :D

  • Wow totally did not kow about this but it’s definitely going to be on my to-do list for the next trip in April! Also it doesn’t seem nearly as touristy as Kinkakuji for example. :-)

      • Too bad. I visited the bigger temples and shrines but would’ve gladly swapped with this little gem. A lot of the bigger spots are ruined in my opinion because of the overload of tourists. Although i have to admit it’s a lot of fun taking a serene picture of Golden Pavilion and being surrounded by 400 mainly Japanese tourists who do exactly the same . :-D

        • Well, Kyoto has always been popular, but due to the recent foreign tourist boom (since 2011) it’s become truly insane.
          I remember standing in front of the Golden Pavillion in summer 2007 – and while it was busy it was certainly not as crowded as nowadays. :)

          • I was there in 2014, standing in te middle of a big crowd trying to take pictures and about 4 guards trying to regulate the whole thing haha.