Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto
Rakan Statues, Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Kyoto
This post can contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links.
Facts & Figures
Otagi Nenbutsuji is a quiet Buddhist Temple on the outskirts of the Arashiyama district in Kyoto. The temple is famous for its more than 1200 moss-covered Rakan (Arhat) sculptures. Each of these stone sculptures stand for a Buddha disciple and has a unique facial expression, posture and body shape. It is said that if you search long enough you will find a Rakan similar to a person you already know:) The whole temple area itself is not that big and most of the time you can enjoy the scenery without masses of tourists. Explore Ryokans in Kyoto >
Ryokans are the perfect way to discover old Japanese culture and traditions.
- Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple:
- Opening Hours - 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
- Closed - open the whole year
- Admission Fee - 400 yen (Adults), free (Children under 15)
My tips for local activities
Explore the best parts of my favourite city Kyoto with a local guide. The personalized tour can take between 2 - 8 hours. Check out this page > for more details.
Otagi Nenbutsuji was founded by Empress Shotoku (718 - 770) in 766. Unfortunately the temple was destroyed by a huge Kamo river flood and later rebuilt by priest Senkan Naigu (918 - 984). During the civil war in the 13th century the temple was again heavily damaged. In 1922 the decision was made to move Otagi Nenbutsuji to its current location. After a strong typhoon in 1950 it took more than 30 years for the reconstruction process. Once this was done in the 1980s sculptor and temple chief Kocho Nishimura (1915 - 2003) teached amateurs in how to create/carve these Rakan stone figures. Over time more than 1200 of them were created. The son and grandson of Nishimura are still taking care of the temple and practice their own unique art.
How to get to Otagi Nenbutsuji?
- 10min walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station to Nonomiya bus stop
- 15min from Nonomiya bus stop served by bus nr. 62, 72, 92 or 94 in direction of Kiyotaki and get off at Otagi-dera mae bus stop
- 2min walk from Otagi-dera mae bus stop to the temple
Sightseeing spots at the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple grounds
Rakan statues - You would think that these stone statues are hundreds of years old, but actually the oldest dating back to the 1980s.
Niomon gate - The gate has two guardians left and right to protect the entrance of this temple.
Principal image - The statue on display is dating back to the Kamakura Period (1192 - 1333).
Festival & Events in Kyoto (dates can change without notice)
Higashiyama Hanatouro Festival (Early - Mid March)
The illumination of local temples and roads by thousands of lanterns in the Higashiyama neighbourhood last for 10 days and starts at 6pm until 9:30pm. It is an unforgettable experience.
Miyako Odori (1st - 31th)
The traditional annual spring dance of the Kyoto district Gion Kobu performed by Geiko and Maiko is a must-see on your Kyoto visit. Don't miss the most popular dances the Miyako Odori "Cherry Blossom Dances" or "Dances of the Old Capital" at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater (located close to Gion Corner).
Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from Imperial Palace through Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri to the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.
Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).
Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which last around 2 hours.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
Day trips from Kyoto:
My 100 Best Moments in Japan
I have visited Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favorite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.
Find out more >
Books about Japan
Reading books is a great source of inspiration for me. Check out my recommended list of books about the fascinating country Japan.
My Book recommendations >