After 45-year wait, repairs declared finished on all 1,001 bodhisattva statues at Kyoto sightseeing spot

JIJI

Preservation and repair work has been completed on all 1,001 statues of 1,000-armed Kannon bodhisattva at Kyoto’s Sanjusangendo Hall, ending a 45-year wait.

The last set of overhauled Buddhist statues was installed at the popular sightseeing spot on Friday.

It took 45 years to repair the statues, which are designated as important cultural properties, and each was taken out of the hall in turns.

“When the weather is fine and the rays of the morning sun come in, they look most beautiful,” said Seiko Tabuchi, a senior official at Myohoin, the temple that manages Sanjusangendo Hall. The brightness is “completely different” from before the repair work began, Tabuchi said.

The preservation and repair work started in 1973, using the Cultural Affairs Agency’s subsidy program for such properties and national treasures. Annually, between 15 and 30 statues were overhauled, but about 40 per year were repaired starting in 2013.

The work mainly involved cleaning off dust and preventing gold foil from peeling off the relics, the oldest of which date from the latter years of the Heian Period (794 to 1185).

It cost about ¥920 million to repair all 1,001 statues.

Friday’s installation brought together all of the statues except for five that are on loan to museums in Kyoto and elsewhere.