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The temple building is so large that it has long been used in archery contests beginning in the 16th century CE.The winner of such competitions had to fire the most arrows the entire length of the temple.Both the wall and the South Gate date to 1590 CE when the regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598 CE) improved the site; both structures are in the Momoyama style and are listed as Important Cultural Properties of Japan.Inside the Sanjusangendo are many fine figure sculptures with the most important being the statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon.
Founded in 1164 CE, the temple is famous for its impressive dimensions and the 1,001 golden Buddha figures and 28 guardian statues which stand inside it.
Around 500 of the figures are signed by the sculptor on the base and include works by such famous names as Ryuen, Inga, Tankei (who made nine), and Koen, Tankei’s great pupil and successor.
The main Kannon statue and the 1,000 smaller figures are all protected by 28 attendants and guardians, all placed on a raised platform and set in a single row in front.
The temple is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.
The Sanjusangendo temple’s official name is Rengeo-in which means ' Temple of the Lotus King Kannon-bosatsu' and is dedicated to Kannon (full name: Juichimen-Senjusengen-Kanzeon), the bodhisattva better known as Guanyin.