When friends come to visit us outside from Kyoto there is one temple we like to take them to. From all the temples in Kyoto this one is by far our favorite to relax and have fun. Fun? At a temple?
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is still a secret to many people, mainly due to the fact that it is far away from the center of Arashiyama.
However, as peaceful and fun the temple is today the history of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is filled with natural disasters.
The temple was built in 770 in the Higashiyama area. Unfortunately, the first temple didn’t last very long. The Kamogawa flooding in the beginning of the Heian period washed away the temple and it was decided to move the temple to the north-east of Kyoto where it decayed for several years.
It took several centuries to decide that the temple and its remaining should be moved to Arashiyama. However, even after the move, the temple was hit by a big typhoon in 1950 which again caused a huge damage.
With Kocho Nishimura, the new head priest from 1955 the temple finally managed to change the long and unlucky history of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji.
With his innovative idea to allow visitors to design and carve their own rakan sculptures, he made a collection of 1200 little represents of Buddha’s disciplines.
Can you believe that these statues are only a few decades old? They are all covered in moss which makes them seem older than they actually are. New temples sound boring to visit? No history? Not this one!
The highlight of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is that the statues are all unique and carved by amateurs. On top of that this temple has a lot of humor! Just find the the statue with the walkman. sunglasses or the ones sharing a drink together.
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The temple makes you want to check out each rakan statue and you will definitely forget about the time.
Maybe you can also find the statue that looks exactly like you?