gion & higashiyama

Kiyomizudera Temple

Iconic Kyoto Temple Offers More Than Spectacular Views

Kiyomizudera Temple, situated atop a small mountain on the east side of Kyoto, is not just a popular tourist attraction for its spectacular views of the city. This iconic temple offers visitors a unique and immersive experience that begins long before they reach its grounds.

The atmospheric approach to Kiyomizudera is an experience in itself. As visitors make their way up the steep hills towards the temple, they are greeted with a charming and historic ambiance. Two streets, named Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, lead the way to Kiyomizudera from Gion, a famous geisha district in Kyoto. These narrow streets are exclusively for pedestrian use and are lined with shops that specialize in souvenirs and snacks. Visitors can find a wide range of items, from Kiyomizu-yaki pottery to yuba, a soy-based food similar to tofu. Some shops even offer traditional Japanese fireworks and wooden hairpieces used when wearing a kimono.

The main hall of Kiyomizudera Temple is undoubtedly its most famous feature. The hall’s veranda, supported by traditional wooden Japanese construction, stands 13 meters above the ground and offers a breathtaking view of Kyoto. Despite being crowded with visitors, it is worth venturing to the furthest corner of the veranda and waiting for a photo opportunity with the city as the backdrop. The veranda is built without the use of nails, showcasing the remarkable craftsmanship of ancient Japanese architecture.

Behind the main hall lies Jishu Shrine, a place dedicated to the deity of matchmaking. This shrine is best known for its two large stones set in the ground. Legend has it that if you can walk from one stone directly to the other with your eyes closed, you will be blessed with true love. Many visitors come to Jishu Shrine to pray for luck in romance and relationships.

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Further up from Jishu Shrine is Okunoin Temple, another inner sanctum of Kiyomizudera. Although the veranda of Okunoin Hall is smaller than that of the main hall, it offers an excellent vantage point to capture a photo of the main hall and the city of Kyoto behind it. The serene and peaceful atmosphere of Okunoin Temple provides visitors with a moment of tranquility amidst the bustling crowds.

Situated at the base of the temple’s main hall is Otowa Waterfall, which splits into three cascades. Visitors can use special long-handled ladles to drink from one of the streams. It is believed that drinking from the streams of Otowa Waterfall brings good luck. However, it is important to pour the water into your hand and drink from your hand, not directly from the ladle itself, to maintain hygiene and cleanliness for other visitors.

Kiyomizudera Temple prides itself on presenting views unique to each season. In spring, the hillsides surrounding the temple are blanketed with cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque sight. The verdant green of summer adds a refreshing touch to the temple’s surroundings. In winter, delicate trees covered in snow create a serene and magical atmosphere. However, it is during autumn that Kiyomizudera truly comes alive with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves change color. The temple holds illumination events during spring and fall to showcase the beauty of the scenery during these seasons.

Visiting Kiyomizudera Temple is not only a visual feast but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich history and culture of Kyoto. The temple’s main hall was recently renovated in 2020, ensuring that it remains a timeless and cherished landmark for generations to come.

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To get to Kiyomizudera Temple, visitors can take a bus from Kyoto Station. Buses number 100 or 206 will take you to either Gojozaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a 10-minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, visitors can take the Keihan Line to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station and walk up Gojozaka to reach the temple.

In conclusion, Kiyomizudera Temple offers more than just a pretty view of Kyoto. It provides visitors with a unique and immersive experience that begins with the atmospheric approach to the temple through the historic streets of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka. The main hall and its veranda offer breathtaking views of the city, while Jishu Shrine and Okunoin Temple provide moments of reflection and serenity. The Otowa Waterfall and the temple’s seasonal beauty add to the allure of Kiyomizudera. A visit to this iconic temple is a must for anyone seeking to explore the rich history and culture of Kyoto.

Address And Maps Location:

294 Kiyomizu 1 Chome, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu


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