Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple(愛宕念仏寺)
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple is not exactly the place you would find in every guide book. It is also not the place you would probably visit during your short stay in Kyoto, unless you are a total Buddhist freak. Well, even in that case I would have some doubts. Anyway, at least from my point of view, and allow me to stress the fact that I am not a Buddhist freak at all, the place is just fabulous.
The first time I was there I spent almost two hours taking pictures of all those weird statues and left just because my colleague was too tired to stay longer. To be honest, even I thought that I had already enough too. But when I went there a few days ago, I went kind of frenzy again and had to control myself a lot considering the fact that two of my colleagues were waiting for me this time . It was not easy to give up though, because there are always too many different statues, posing for the camera.
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple itself was already founded in the middle of the eighth century at the different place. Destroyed several times over the centuries the temple was moved to its current location at the beginning of the 20th century. There are more than 1200 statues of Rakan, an Arhat who already reached the state of nirvana guarded by the Nio statues (仁王) - guardians of the Buddha- at the entrance gate. The Rakan guys are kind of humorous characters. That is why it was possible to depict them in so many different and unusual forms. In Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple, they were all carved by the amateur worshipers coming from the whole Japan. The professional sculptor, head of the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple in the 1980s, supervised all works.
They have just made so many of them and in so many forms that once you enter the precincts of the temple you will see for yourself how difficult it is to leave. There is always one more you have not taken picture of yet. And if you do not do it, you will be still thinking about it, telling yourself again and again, “why did not I take another picture when I had a chance”...
So do not ever give up on your walk around Kyoto because there is always something more awaiting you just behind the next corner. And trust me that you will definitely not regret coming as far as Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple because the figures of all the Rakan guys there who are really eager to meet you too.
Just be aware of one more thing. This temple is also just a starting point for another tour after all. So if you still have enough time and energy keep on going and try to reach Takao(高雄) village area not so far away. Good luck!