Kannon: "The Goddess of Mercy"
Kannon (sometimes Kanzeon or Kwannon) is the Japanese name for the
bodhisattva Avalokitasvara (or Bodhisattva of Compassion). Kannon takes on 33 manifestations, and the only female form it
takes is known as the "Goddess of Mercy."
The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage
Kannon's ability to take 33 different forms is the reason why there are 33 temples
on this 1500-mile pilgrimage that stretches from Lake Biwa to Kobe, covering Japan's east and west coasts. The pilgrimage
route dates back to the 11th century, and each stop is associated with a different miracle that Kannon performed.
This print, by Kunisada I, depicts the ninth stop on the pilgrimage: Nanendo Hall, which is situated at the edge of Nara (in Western Japan). This octagonal hall was built in 813, and boasts a treasury
that is only on view for the public on October 17 each year. In this print, the viewer can see the octagonal hall in the distance,
as the pilgrim stops outside the temple complex.