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Photo By: Matt Coslett
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Ryozen Kannon

Kyoto’s female "Giant Buddha."

While visitors flock to nearby Nara to see the giant Buddha there, it is easy to forget that Kyoto also has a similarly massive buddha. Smiling peacefully down from 24 meters up, the Ryozen Kannon may lack the age and height of its Nara neighbor, but it makes up for that in its cultural importance. The complex at Kyoto has a complicated, rich history associated with the after effects of the war and the people who perished in the Pacific theater.

The monument here is a giant statue of Kannon, a female Bodhisattva known for her compassion towards living things.

The area is littered with reminders of things that deserve this sacred entity’s compassion, including monuments for the souls of unborn babies; soil samples taken from cemeteries where the war dead were buried; and even a filing cabinet full of information about the people who perished in the Pacific from both sides.

Photo by: Matt Coslett Ryozen Kannon Temple

If you would like to feel some of this area’s compassionate energy yourself, visitors are offered the chance to pay an extra ¥100  and burn incense to the dead.

Make a wish

For those that want to gain a blessing too, the giant orb on the grounds is said to manifest spiritual energy. Simply by rubbing this structure, making a wish and writing your desire on a circular piece of paper is said to convert your deepest desires into reality.

Photo by: Matt Coslett Writing wishes

Similarly fortuitous are the statues hidden inside the Kannon statue itself. While the Nara Buddha is similarly hollow, it is filled with relics and visitors aren’t allowed to enter. Unlike the Buddha at Nara, visitors are encouraged to enter inside the body of the Kyoto Buddha and see the guardian statues inside. Each statue is distinguished by its association with a sign of the zodiac, meaning that you can find the one that is specific to you.

Two temples are better than one

Appropriately for one of Kyoto’s lesser known sights, there is a lot to uncover in the Ryozen Kannon complex. The best part is that this attraction can be easily combined with the nearby Zen Buddhist Kodai-ji temple.

Photo by: Chad Kainz Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto.

Taking the path to these sights offers visitors the chance to see two of the under-appreciated Kyoto attractions in one for a day trip to enlighten your spirit.

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Things To Know

Fees and hours

Ryozen Kannon is open everyday, from 8:40 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. For adults, entrance fee is ¥300, for high school student ¥200 and for children ¥100.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒605-0825 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Shimokawarachō, 526−2, 霊山観音総本部

By train

The nearest station is Shijo Keihan station on the Keihan line.

By bus

For visitors traveling from Kyoto Station, the area can be accessed by bus. Take bus 206 or 207 and get off at the Gion stop.

Where To Stay

Samurai Inn
  • Higashiyama-ku Shimokawaracho 463−31 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0825
  • 8.1/10
  • 0.2 km
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Ryokan Uemura
  • Higashiyama-ku Gion Shimogawara Ishibei-koji Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0825
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.2 km
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Kyoto Nene House
  • Higashiyama-ku Masuyacho 350-2 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0826
  • 7.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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Santouan
  • Higashiyama-ku, Ryozan-cho, Seikanji 19 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0861
  • 0.2 km
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