If you visit Arashiyama, the hills lying to the west of Kyoto city, you’ll find the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple. Standing all over the temple grounds, are 1,200 statues of rakan, the original disciples and followers of the Buddha, carved from stone and covered with moss. They were carved decades ago by believers who worshipped at the temple, and were donated as a blessing. Due to the many different sculptors involved in the project, many of whom were amateur, all the statues have different expressions, poses, and artistic styles. They may be praying, laughing, holding birds or even goblets. These differences add a touch of whimsy to this lovely temple, making it a true hidden treasure.
Open hours: Mon-Sun 8am-5pm
Address: 2-5 Sagatoriimoto Fukatanicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto 616-8439.