I’ve been to Kiyomizudera several times now, at least three that I can think of. It is, simply, one of my favourite places in Kyoto. The fresh mountain air, the wind in the trees, and a view of the bustling city below, making you feel sort of removed from the rest of the world. It would be a very good place to simply sit, and think, to clear your mind.



Lush green, an angry sky

If it wasn’t for the tourists.
Like so many other beautiful places in Japan, it is constantly rammed with tourists from all over the world, destroying any calming notions you had about the temple, and instead you become infuriated as you shuffle through the crowd of loud, ignorant, boisterous tourists. Thank God for headphones.

But enough about the tourists. Back to the happy place. Kiyomizudera, meaning Pure Water Temple is nestled in the trees of Otowa Mountain, of the eastern mountains (Higashiyama), propped on huge wooden stilts sits the main temple building. The temple was founded in 798AD, and it’s current buildings were constructed in 1633. Its name comes from a waterfall above the temple, which waters trickle through the grounds. Like many of the other historic places in Japan, Kiyomizudera is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (bringing my total to around 25). The temple grounds feature a few main sites, as well as many smaller ones, and several shrines withing as well.

IMG_0685Matsubara-dori, the road leading up to the temple is always packed with people. It is lined with traditional souvenir shops and some restaurants.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe niōmon gate, present at every Buddhist temple in Japan. Inside, the temple gate is guarded by two demons. Behind, a three-storied pagoda can be seen.
The Main Hall (Hondo) and stage of Kiyomizudera. It is built upon huge, 12-meter high keyaki (Japanese Zelkova) pillars. The drop is 13 meters, and the saying “to jump of the stage at Kiyomizu”, similar to the English “take the plunge” comes from here. Those that survive the drop are said to have one wish granted. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), two hundred and thirty four jumps were recorded, with 85% of people surviving. Of course this is now banned.
78The Otowa Waterfall. After making a prayer, it is believed that if you drink water from one of the three streams, you will be granted longetivy, love or knowledge. Though it seems that no one knows which is which.

Despite my griping at the tourists, Kiyomizudera is definitely a lovely place to visit, especially I imagine in the Autumn when the leaves change. For only ¥300, the view is spectacular, and the buildings are beautiful. There are some other buildings in the complex, but I have not seen them because, as is the curse of my family, they were under rennovation.

Definitely check it out if you can. You can see more photos of Kiyomizudera here, here and here.


2 thoughts on “Kiyomizudera

  1. Pingback: The Curse of the Byrom Family | oxford2osaka

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