Otagi Nenbutsuji is one of Kyoto’s hidden gems. Tucked in a secluded area in the west of Arashiyama, this place is often overlooked by visitors whose focus are on Arashiyama’s known spots. You can easily visit the temple by catching a bus either at the stop located at the train station or at the stop near Togetsukyo bridge.
In a first glance, one might think that these are just stone statues covered in moss but on a closer look, there is much more you can see beneath all the moss.
The temple is famous for its the whimsical 1200 stone statues of rakan, the devoted disciples of Buddhism, wherein each statue display a different facial expression. Many of the expressions are quite cheeky making me smile as I checked out the rows of statues.It was also interesting to know that these statues were created by amateur sculptors. This was a brainchild of Kocho Nishimura, the head priest of the temple and also a sculptor. These statues were carved by visitors under Nishimura’s guidance hence the uniqueness of each statue.
Note: Adashino Nenbutsuj is a 10 minutes walk from Otagi Nenbutsuji. Along the way, you will pass by a beautiful street of Saga-Toriimoto.
Take “Kyoto Bus” # 64, 74, 84 and 94 bound for “Kiyotaki” and get off at “Otagidera-mae”.
Stops are located at Hankyu Arashiyama Station, Kyoto Sanjo Sta., JR Kyoto Sta. and from a bus stop called “No no Miya” near Saga-Arashiyama Station’s south exit.