Ryozen Kannon Temple 霊山観音
Ryozen Kannon Temple, located to the south of Maruyama Koen and Yasaka Jinja in the south east of Kyoto is a war memorial dedicated to the fallen on both sides of the Pacific War and a moving testament to the futility and loss of conflict.
The 24-meter concrete image of the Goddess of Mercy was built in 1955 to honour the dead of World War II, both Japanese and Allied soldiers. Visitors can enter the body of the statue to see the enshrined Eleven-headed image of Kannon (the Goddess of Mercy).
Within the precincts of Ryozen Kannon is an altar containing soil from every Allied cemetery from the Pacific theater of World War II.
Ryozen Kannon History
In 1955, ten years after the end of World War II, a Japanese construction company built this impressive 24m-tall statue as a memorial to the events fresh in the minds of many Japanese, who had suffered so much in the preceding years.
After paying the 200 yen entrance fee, visitors can place a stick of incense (given them at the entrance) in a large pot just beyond a reflecting pool of water.
There is also an image of a recumbent Buddha and a large, 1.5m tall image of the Buddha on a lotus throne. The garden area of the temple includes other Buddhist statues and a memorial Buddhist footprint. The main image of Kannon can also be entered.
In a Christian-style chapel in the north east of the grounds are library-style drawers containing files of the names of the Allied soldiers and prisoners of War (POWs) who died in World War II in terroritory under the control of the Japanese military.
Ryozen Kannon can be seen as a monument to peace and a counterpoint to the more nationalist Gokoku Shrine nearby, which celebrates and glorifies those who died in wars fighting for the Japanese Emperor.
Ryozen Kannon Access - Getting To Ryozen Kannon
Ryozen Kannon is a 10-15-minute walk from Shijo Keihan Station. From Kyoto Station, take the #206 or #207 bus to the Gion bus stop and walk up the hill.
Tel: 075 561 2505
200 yen to visit the temple (includes a stick of incense).
A visit to Ryozen Kannon can be combined with seeing nearby Maruyama Park, Chionin, Shoren-in, the Ryozen Museum of History, Kodaiji Temple, Gion, and Kiyomizudera. The Okazaki museum district and Heian Shrine with its huge vermillion torii gate are a 20 minute stroll to the north.
Accommodation in Gion
Gion is one of the most popular places in Kyoto to stay on any vacation to the ancient capital of Japan. Some of the accommodation options on offer in Gion are traditional Japanese guest houses, ryokan or minshuku, a few of them converted machiya (Edo Period wooden merchant houses). They offer a traditional Japanese stay, that is sleeping in futon mattresses on tatami (woven straw) floors and sharing a hot tub. (Note: Guests remove their shoes before entering).
Recently to cater to modern, Western tastes many of the guest houses have become holiday homes or apartments: Japanese in spirit, decor and interior furnishings but Western in usage with beds, Wifi and attached showers.
Some recommended places to stay in Gion include Hana-Touro Hotel Gion, with Japanese-style restaurant, concierge desk, plus kimono and bicycle hire, Hotel The Celestine Kyoto Gion, which features an on-site restaurant, Tempura Endo Yasaka, serving Japanese cuisine including tempura and sushi, Iori Machiya Stay, offering machiya accommodation in various locations in Kyoto and Yuzuya Ryokan, a luxurious 5-star traditional inn with antique furnishings and seasonal ikebana arrangements. All rooms include tatami floors and traditional futon bedding.
See a full listing of accommodation in Kyoto's Gion district.