On my last day in Kyoto I visited a lesser known temple in the Arashimaya area called Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji - quite a mouthful to say, I know! Fewer people go there because its location is a bit far away from the Arashimaya station - we had to walk a mile or two to reach the temple.
This temple's unique feature is its collection of 1,200 carved stone figures scattered over the grounds. Each of the figures is a disciple of Shaka, the founder of Buddhism. People from around Japan carved these figures between 1981 and 1991.
Each statue, therefore, has a unique set of features. Some have amusing or hilarious expressions, and it was quite fun to go around and observe the small details.
The temple grounds were also quite lovely. Stone paths climb and curve up the hills, set off by distinctive red lantern posts. I love the contrast of the fire engine red with the deep green sheen of moss upon the rocks and the leaves.
At the first pagoda you come across on the hill, you can ring the heavy bells that hang from the ceiling. They create a low, deep, and melodic ring that vibrates across the silence of the hills.
There are seemingly endless little smiling statues, some with their own props, others interacting with their buddies.
You could probably spend hours observing each statue, but for practical purposes you only need an hour at the most to take in the attraction. It cost 300 yen ($3 USD) to enter, and it is open from 8AM to 5PM.
If you are spending a day in the Arashimaya area, I would recommend that you take a little side trip to see this temple. There is actually a bus stop right outside the entrance, and several buses do make the trip to the Arashimaya station, though they do not come frequently.
I'll leave you with a few more photos of this temple!