Photographs Kawagoe Gohyaku rakan

Five hundred holy men

Kawagoe is a city to the north-west of Tokyo, and one of the main attractions is the gohyaku rakan (五百羅漢), which roughly translates as five hundred (gohyaku) holy men (rakan). In actual fact, there are 538 of them to be found in the corner of the Kita-in temple. Rakan is a shortened version of arahan (阿羅漢), which derived from the Sanskrit word arhat (अर्हत्).

Each rakan has his own expression. It is said that if you touch the heads of rakan late at night, one of them will be warm, and the expression of that rakan resembles your deceased parent. Another thing that people do is to find a rakan that reflects their personality. I think I found mine.