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Originally built in 1164, the present elongated building was constructed in 1266 after a fire destroyed its predecessor, with evidence of its former importance as a place of training in archery still seen in the many holes in its ancient pillars and timbers made by arrowheads.The most important of its many works of art is the Kannon with a Thousand Hands, a nearly three-and-a-half-meter-tall statue, which dates from the 13th century and is notable for the 500 standing figures of Kannon lined up on either side of it.Also of note are the additional sculptures of the 28 "celestial auxiliaries," spirits considered subordinate to Kannon, located behind it., built in AD 794 and replaced several times after being destroyed by fire, remains one of the city's most visited historic sites.Highlights include the Hondo, or Main Hall, rebuilt in 1760 with a number of fine rooms decorated with paintings on gold backgrounds and numerous important statues, some dating from the 6th century.Also of interest is the Founder's Hall (Daishi-do) with its much-revered statue of Shinran, carved in 1244 and later covered with a coat of lacquer mingled with his ashes.
Also of interest is the Higashi-Honganji Temple of the Jodo-shinshu sect, founded in 1602 and home to a number of examples of fine artwork.
Famous as the residence of the emperor and Japan's principal cultural center for almost 1,100 years, Kyoto today boasts numerous fine examples of sculptures, paintings, and other art forms in its many museums and galleries.
The city is also home to centuries-old architecture, much of it influenced by Buddhism and found in well-preserved temples.
The terrace affords spectacular views over the city and the surrounding wooded hills, especially when the leaves change color in fall.
Sanjūsangen-dō (Rengyoin Temple), or the Temple of the 33 Niches, takes its name from its rather unusual structure, with its façade divided into 33 (sanjusan) niches (gen) to reflect the belief that Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, could take on 33 different personifications.
Hot Tip: Only a few parts of these temples are open to the public, so be sure to make arrangements in advance of your visit to include other areas not normally accessible.