Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

Otagi Nembutsuji Rakan
Otagi Nembutsuji Rakan

One of my favorite temples in Kyoto is Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, located in Arashiyama. Although Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is quite well-known, it is off the beaten path. You won't find mobs of tourists chatting away instead of quietly taking in the beauty of their surroundings. I have been there many times and only seen a handful of other visitors in the hours I have spent both photographing and simply sitting peacefully in the silence.

The temple's claim to fame is 1,200 rakan statues. (Rakan were followers of Buddha.) I first visited the temple when I began work on my second book, OneHundred Views of Kyoto. I remember being overwhelmed by the rows upon rows of statues. There were so many! Which ones would I photograph? I decided not to over-think things too much, and I just started walking down the rows. If something I saw made me want to stop, I stopped, set up my tripod and Mamiya 645, and photographed that particular statue. I didn't realize it until my second or third visit, but I finally noticed that I was almost always making photographs of rakan that were praying, like the photo posted here. This photo was actually taken on my very first visit, but I did not include it in One Hundred Views ofKyoto. It is still one of my favorites, though.