Kiyomizudera (清水寺) is one of the most famous temples in all of Japan (日本). It goes back all the way to 780 when it was founded in association with the Hosso sect, a very old school of Japanese Buddhism.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.
The location where it was founded houses the Otowa Waterfalls of Eastern Kyoto (京都). Because of its clear waters, the temple was named as such (lit. “Pure Water Temple”).
Kiyomizudera is celebrated as one of the most-visited and appreciated sight in Kyoto, or all of Japan really.
Seeing that is so old and a wooden building, it needs to be maintained accordingly. Thus, the roof of its main hall is currently still under construction, scheduled to finish in early 2020.
You can of course still enter the temple, however. Said renovation has been going on since February 2017 which is why I unfortunately didn’t get to see it without the construction site (in July 2017).
It does obscure its overall beauty, but don’t let that stop you from visiting it!
Onto the thing in question!
Kiyomizudera’s best-known feature is its wooden stage that is 13 meters above ground which allows for a breathtaking view of its immediate vicinity as well as the city of Kyoto in the far distance.
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Right before the stage lies the main hall with a statue of the Kannon to be worshipped.
Continuing on along the path will lead you to the Otowa Waterfalls at the base of the hills. The spring is divided into 3 streams, each representing a different benefit. One for longevity, one for success at school or work and one for a fortunate love life. You can line up and drink from one of the streams and I recommend doing so! (I was coincidently quite lucky in my love life afterwards ;)).
But don’t think of drinking from more than one! It’s considered greedy and will not grant you any effect.
Other features and buildings
The temple grounds offer another way to increase your luck in love life. Jishu Shrine is dedicated to the deity of love and has two stones in front of it which are 18 meters apart from each other.
It is said that, with your eyes closed, walking from one stone to the other successfully will bring good fortune for your love life. Fun thing to try out!
Further along the path you can see other halls and smaller temple buildings with various Buddha statues and the likes inside of them.
Then you can walk to the three-storied Koyasu Pagoda which is also visible from the wooden stage mentioned earlier. This Pagoda is said to bring good luck for mothers and their children.
The charm of the Kiyomizudera lies not only within the temple grounds but also before it and on the way there! As it is located in the Higashiyama (東山) district, there is loads to see before getting to the temple itself.
Other temples and shrines as well as shops and restaurants that will serve local specialties only to be found here.
Upon reaching the entrance to the paid area of Kiyomizudera, there are a few temple buildings and a beautiful Pagoda to be looked at.
So even if you somehow don’t feel like entering the temple grounds themselves, checking out the area is definitely amazing as well!
To top everything off, in mid-March each year, an event called Hanatoro is held. With this event Kiyomizudera and its surroundings of the Higashiyama district are illuminated in wonderful spotlights.
Similar illuminations are displayed in late November.
Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- Opened every day from 6am – 6pm (until 6:30pm on weekends and holidays from mid-April to July and every day in August and September)
- No closing days throughout the year
- Entrance Fee is 400 Yen (3,08€/$3.64; exchange rates as of July 2018)
You can either walk straight from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station which will take about 20 minutes. This way, you will be able to see more of the district.
Or, you take the bus number 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station (京都駅) for around 15 minutes and 230 Yen (1,77€/$2.09) to Kiyoumizu-michi bus stop and then walk 10 minutes to the temple.
I highly recommend coming here! It’s easily among the top 5 places to visit within Kyoto given its beauty and popularity.
Don’t let its momentarily construction hold you off from going, it’s still amazing!
Keep in mind that it will be fairly crowded, especially on weekends with nice weather. I probably waited around 15-20 minutes for my turn at the Otowa Waterfalls!
But if you bring a little bit of time and patience then it’s really a no-brainer to come here.
Thank you very much for reading this article about Kiyomizudera!
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For my next post, we will be looking into how to visit a temple (寺) correctly, stay tuned!