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Okinawa City, Japan
August 31, 2008
From journal Peace in a Big City
August 29, 2008
August 6, 2002
The name "Sanjusan" means 33, and this number has a mystical importance in the building, as there are 33 spaces between the supporting columns. There is one large figure of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy with a thousand hands that is revered as a National Treasure in Japan. This six-foot tall central figure is flanked by a cavalry of 1000 smaller figures of Kannon, buddha sculptures all golden and wooden and crammed into the hall. Walk down the hall and you will note that the buddha figures are repetitive, but not completely identical. These peaceful figures are fronted and "protected" by a line of 28 fierce-looking guardian deities. You may see a few spider webs strewn about some of the dusty, elegant figures in the dimly lit hall.
There is an archery field in the rear of the unassuming building, which seems appropriate alongside a long narrow building. There are special archery tournaments held during annual festive occasions.
From journal Bill in Japan - traditional KYOTO
July 12, 2001
This temple houses one of the most amazing collections of Kannon (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy) statues anywhere in the world- 1001 of them. The principal image is a gigantic seated Kannon with 40 arms, flanked on each side by 500 standing statues of the 40-arm kannons. The statues were carved out of cypress and gilded. Each is different, from their pose, to their elaborate dress to their headgear, expressions, arm positions, and what the instruments on each hand. In front of the 1001 kannons are 28 guardian deities which protect the kannon and also pious buddhists who believe in him/her. In addition, the Wind God and the Thunder God also guards the entrance and exit of this temple. All 1031 pieces are masterpieces, carved curing the 12th and 13th century, and incredibly well-preserved. They were just awesome.
One other important fact. This temple used to hold archery competition, where the archers would shoot their arrows down the length of the building, all day and night, with the one hiting the most targets declared the winner. The most amazing story is of one 13 year old, who shot over 8000 arrows in 24 hours to become the undisputed winner of one of the contests. It's truly a game of stamina. Nowadays, the temple still holds archery competitions on Coming of Age Day in January, with the competitors tending to be 20-year-old lady archers.
From journal Kyoto - The Japan of Old