Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Stone Buddhas

As you might have already guessed from my previous posts Kyoto has a huge number of temples and shrines. In fact, there are over 2000, both large and small, which makes choosing which to visit a bit tricky – it’s well worth picking up the Kyoto (Lonely Planet City Guide) to work out where you want to go. If temples aren’t your thing then you might want to skip today’s post or Kyoto altogether…

Vending Machines

Something that you’ll see a lot of in Japan are vending machines that are used to sell all manner of goods which can be squeezed into them. I found the ones above on a quiet street in Arashiyama – some were even selling cigarettes and alcohol and I wondered how they prevent minors from using them.

Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple Entrance

My next stop was Adashino Nenbutsu-ji temple which is situated high on a hill overlooking the city from the northwest. It sits in an area where during the Heian period the destitute of the area brought their dead, leaving the bodies exposed to the elements or to be burnt in mass pyres.

Stone Buddhas

Receiving no tombstone or proper burial, their souls were honoured by stone Buddhas, of which about 8000 can be seen here (sans rotting corpses).

Mini Buddha

Each stone is unique – some are very old and worn while others (like the one above) look quite recent. In such a peaceful location it seems quite a nice way to be remembered.

Temple Bell

Above the entrance to the field containing most of the statues is a large bell suspended by wooden beams.

Inside a large stone pagoda is surrounded by thousands of statues solemnly arranged in rows with the trees and mountains providing a picturesque backdrop.

Moss Covered Buddhas

Covered in moss and after years of water erosion many of the Buddhas are hard to make out but at close proximity, you can still see their faint outlines.


Since I was visiting just before autumn most of the leaves hadn’t yet turned but by chance a small patch had and I managed to get this shot which is one of my favourites from the whole trip.

Spot The Odd One Out

A few of the Buddhas had been “dressed” in brightly patterned clothes. If anyone knows what this signifies please feel free to leave a comment below.

Bamboo Pathway

If you take a walk through the small bamboo-lined path to the upper area, you’ll find actual grave sites instead of the statues in the lower area.

Cat Carrying Kitten

It began to rain so I decided to find somewhere to have lunch and shelter. On the road, I noticed this very cute sign showing a cat carrying a kitten! Japan can’t get enough of all things kawaii 😀

David avatar

2 responses

  1. Sarah avatar

    I was speaking with a local at Nara who told me the aprons are put on rocks by parents of children who have passed. After a quick Google search, I came across a recent blog post which describes the history behind it in detail: Hope that helps!

    1. Thanks Sarah – that’s super interesting to find out (I probably should have research a bit more deeply in the first place!).


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