Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is a temple in Arashiyama with a collection of 1,200 Rakan Buddhist statues. It’s one of Kyoto most unique temples.
Originally called Otagi-ji Temple, it was first built in the Otagi District (present-day central Kyoto) by Emperor Shotoku in the latter half of the 8th century. At the beginning of the Heian period, the temple buildings were washed away when the nearby Kamogawa River flooded.
The temple was re-established by Senkan Naigu, a priest of the Tendai sect, and became a branch of Enryakuji, a temple on the opposite side of Kyoto, perched atop Mount Hieizan.
Over a period of three years beginning in 1922, Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple was transfered to its present location in the Saga District in order to preserve it. Due to its unique location in the foothills, it has been ruined and rebuilt numerous times by natural disasters.
Despite Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple’s relatively small footprint, expect to spend a decent amount of time here. Normally, you could be in and out of a temple this size in about 10-15 minutes. Here, you’ll want to linger, closely inspecting each of the statues.
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