I have starred certain temples on Google Maps in Kyoto and one that I hadn’t un-starred yet was Konkai-Komyoji Temple, and the Big-Haired Buddha. The buddha’s hirsute stylings is not part of the official temple name, just so you know. It’s mine.
It was under an undecided sky on the day that I entered through the large wooden gate at the bottom of a not so scary set of steps towards the main hall.
Founded around 1175, it is a temple site created for the Jōdo Sect of Buddhism. Like many temples, its main hall was rebuilt in 1942 due to it been destroyed by (answers on a postcard):
a) a fire
b) a meteorite strike
c) large scaly monster stomping on it
d) a fire
It’s a little nondescript around the main hall area with a peaceful little water feature but people park their cars around the area so it doesn’t feel that tranquil like other places.
The smaller Amidado hall is quite pretty and striking with its white and dark brown features.
You begin to see that some views of the city could be possible from the grounds. So what you do is turn left while facing the Amidado hall and head down to the bottom of the cemetery below. There you will see a more cardio inducing set of steps up to the Konkai Komyoji Triple Pagoda rising high above at the summit. On the way up, though, you have to stop and pay your respects to the big haired Buddha.
So what’s the deal here? It’s certainly not a picture you conjure up of a traditional Buddha symbol. The reasoning is that Gokoshiyui Amida Buddha meditated for so long (and for the sake of all living things) that his hair grew out. There you have it.
It is said there are only around 16 statues like this in the whole of Japan.
As you head on up, you can see the pagoda (built in 1633, possibly rebuilt at some point, not sure) beckoning you on. From the top, there are some excellent views of downtown Kyoto city to reward you.
Sadly, the pagoda has some scaffolding around it for now.
Another stop by our friend on the way back down to give us good karma for the rest of the steps.
A trip to the lesser visited Konkai-Komyoji Temple is definitely worth it for the rare Buddha statue and views from the top of the cemetery.
Here’s where it is at. Enjoy.