Rakan sculptures in Otagi Nenbutsu-ji


Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is a small temple hidden in the north west of Kyoto, in the Sagatoriimoto district. The temple is not really figuring in the to-do list of most of foreigners. Yet, the whole district of Sagatoriimoto is really worthing a visit.

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji has been destroyed and moved several times to a new location. Yet, the temple is famous today for its hundred of Rakan sculptures, made by amateurs, which give them a very unique personality. Each Rakan has its own face and expression. You may wonder the meaning of “Rakan”. A rakan is actually in japanese a person who has attained Nirvana. Althought these statues have been donated is the last decades, humidity and vegetation made them looking as ancestral sculptures.


4 thoughts on “Rakan sculptures in Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

  1. Hi, I’m enjoying following your blog. Have you actually been to all these places, including the military cemetery in Pyongyang? I’m quite amazed. I don’t earn very much money so its beyond my dreams at the moment to travel to these places but thanks for bringing them a bit closer.

    • Hello! Thank you for your comment! Yes I took all pictures myself… And I travelled to North Korea in sept 2013 in a one week tour. Going there can be very easy by using a specialised travel agency, with travels departing from Beijing. The average cost for a one week trip there is around 2000 usd… It was cheaper than i thought 😉

      • Hi,

        I’m impressed by how intrepid you are. Did you feel frightened when you were there i.e. that they could chuck you in a gulag if they wanted to? That is what goes through my mind. Or if I had a tourettes moment at the statue of Kim Il Sung.

        In my day job I’m a journalist so I’ve been told that I wouldn’t be admitted except possibly on a specially arranged media trip. Another issues for me is that I’m on very sedating medication and I wondered if I could handle the pace of the tours. I hear they pack a lot in.

        At the moment I’m contenting myself with reading lots of books about the country such as the excellent ‘Dear Leader’ by Jan Jin-Sung.

  2. Hello! No, I was part of a group, so I was quite confident. Nowadays, thousands of tourists are travelling to North Korea every year, and the regime is making small benefits of this modest industry, and they don’t really want to lose it. If you play the game (don’t be provocative, and respect the rules), there won’t be any major issue. The agency told us that in the worst case, the whole group will be sent back to China. But of course, journalists are not really welcome, and it can be very hard for you to enter the country with such occupation. And even if you succeed, they will pay a particular attention on you, so you won’t see anything true during your tour. However, you can join as a tourist, and try to do small investigations during the tour (but this could be dangerous if you start cheating them).
    I also have and read “Dear Leader”, which is indeed a very good book, much better than the “The Aquariums of Pyongyang” in my opinion.
    The tour was anyway very fascinating, and I found it pretty safe to be honest. Everything is controlled, so if you follow the group, and respect the rules, nothing can really happen.

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