Frozen moments from the infinity that is time

Sanjusangendo (Kyoto)


Sanjusangendo is, at 120 metres), Japan’s longest wooden structure, with the name literally translating to “33 intervals” to denote the number of intervals between the building’s support columns. The temple’s other major claim to fame is for the 1001 statues of Kannon (the goddess of mercy), which are housed within the temple hall. Originally built in 1164 and destroyed by fire in 1249, the current structure dates from 1266.

Unfortunately my photographs are restricted to external views given that photography is banned inside the temple hall. This is always disappointing, particularly when it seems to be motivated by a desire to increase souvenir sales and when a blind eye is turned to those taking “selfies” on phone cameras.

Nevertheless, there is a “silver lining” and by focusing on exterior shots, one has the opportunity to highlight the quiet beauty and strength of traditional wooden structures, not to mention the wonderful hues that result as wood ages. My personal favourite is the final shot, simply because it is a timeless view that may have been shared by many over the centuries.

(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)

Author: johnliddlephotography

Photography reflects how I see the world around me. I respond to images that interest me, which can be anything ... people, places, colour, texture ... anything at all. By sharing my photos through this blog I know that viewers will see based on their life experiences. That is the wonder of photography ... one image ... many interpretations.

2 thoughts on “Sanjusangendo (Kyoto)

  1. Hi John,
    Do know that your posts on Kyoto bring much delight – despite the lamentable state of affairs you noted on being limited by regulations to sharing only the outdoor beauty of Sanjusangendo through photography – since there’s always so much to adore in your captures, no matter what. Take heart, my friend.

    I love how you captured the quiet elegance of the wooden frames of the framed intervals (as in pictures 4 to 7) and there is so much peace even in the shots of the stepped entrance and the egret ending off with the alluring final picture with a sweet combination of both nature and lovely wooden structures, the latter man-made yet essentially so reminiscent of what we have been gifted by the earth.

    While I was amused by your choice of words in quotes (and the suggested meanings therein), your pictures leave one with the fascinating thought – of how you manage to capture these moments with few if any people (except for those with intended human subjects in them). There is such beauty in the fact that these allow for quiet contemplation founded solely on the wooden structures one is blessed to come across.

    Thank you as always for sharing your light through your heart-warming photography and do take care, too

  2. Hi B,
    Thanks once again for your always kind comments and interesting observations. So many of these magnificent structures one finds in Kyoto (and elsewhere in Japan) seem to have taken the inherent beauty of the raw materials and refashioned them in human form to, as you say, encourage quiet contemplation.
    With respect to capturing images with few people, it was quite easy at Sanjusangendo – the people were inside taking “selfies” haha. However, at busier locations, the key requirement is patience. Take care.

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