There are a few places in Japan that are really special to me. Visiting Nikko, the collection of temples and 5-story pagodas that are the grandest in the Kanto (Tokyo) area, after the leaves have turned in autumn. Spending hours in the Ghibli Museum. In Kyoto, walking up the steep slope that leads to the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and maybe stopping to buy some Yatsuhashi traditional Kyoto treats along the way. There’s another place I love a lot, also in Kyoto, called Sanjusangendo, translated as the Hall of 33 Bays. This is an unbelievably beautiful temple built in 1164 which is 120 meters in length, and inside you’ll find 1001 carved wooden statues of the Kannon-Bosatsu, or Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. (If you look closely at the statues, it’s said you can find your own face.) The goddesses are protected by carved statues of 28 Buddhist deities including Fujin and Raijin, the Buddhist Gods of Wind and Lightning. These figures always stuck out to me somehow, almost as if they were Hindu versions of Zeus throwing down lightning bolts from Mt. Olympus rather than “Japanese” creations. And it turned out I was exactly right: these statues are examples of Greco-Buddhist art which flowed from Greece into Asia through the conquests of Alexander the Great (Japanese name: Alexander Daioh ^_^) and made it all the way to Japan. What an interesting world we live in!
My favorite place to visit in Kyoto.