Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District


2018.05.25

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

  • One of the most identifiable landmarks in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is the largest and most oft visited temples in the temple capital of Japan. Located on Mount Otowa , Kiyomizu-dera provides a wide view of Kyoto city with each season bringing in a new round of scenery. The temple ground is expansive, with over 130,000 square meters of temples, including a pagoda and a waterfall. Officially made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, Kiyomizu-dera can
    become quite crowded and is best visited in the early morning or close to closing hours.

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-dera was founded in 778. Unlike most temples at the time, Kiyomizu-dera was built for all citizens to enjoy, not just practicing monks or the upper class. The name Kiyomizu-dera literally means pure water, named after the Otowa waterfall behind the temple. Back in the 8th century, Kenshin, a monk, was told to “go north and find a crystal spring”. Upon finding the Otowa waterfall, Kenshin decided to dedicate his new temple space to Kannon, after meeting an incarceration of the deity during his long journey. To this day, pure water still falls from the Otowa waterfall. It is told that when the water is ingested, wishes will come true.

    The creation of Kiyomizu-dera is a feat in construction itself. The main hall, made in 1633, is the size of a four story building and made from zelkova trees, over 400 years old. Surprisingly constructed with no nails, the hall is intricate and earthquake proof, with 139 pillars supporting the scaffolding on the steep slope.

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    In addition to the main hall, the second most popular attraction is the Jishu shrine. Singles prophesize their love life by walking blind between two rocks. If they can walk 18 meters to touch the second stone, then their love life will be a success. Another landmark rich with luck is the Otowa waterfall. Visitors are encouraged to drink from the streams of freshwater flowing from the mountain, each stream representing a different area of difficulty in life.

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Over 1,500 cherry blossom trees and 1,000 koyo, or fall foliage, trees bloom every spring and autumn. Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most popular places to view these natural wonders and the main hall can get even more crowded than it already is. Luckily, the temple grounds hours are extended into the nighttime with the flowers and leaves illuminated. With a backdrop of all of Kyoto, the flowers and leaves are spectacularly distinct against the wooden exterior of the temple.

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-dera itself is a hike from the city center. Before the temple is the Higashiyama district, a narrow road packed with souvenir shops, small eateries and and traditional stores. With the Koyasu Pagoda in the foreground, this area is popular for both pictures and enjoying a quick bite to eat. Both tourists and locals alike are found wearing bright yukatas and strolling in wooden geta in the summer.

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-Dera and the Higashiyama District

    Kiyomizu-dera is open from 6AM - 6PM. Special illumination hours are held in spring for cherry blossoms, summer for the high tourist amount, and autumn for fall foliage. The illumination hours end at 9PM.

    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    rating

    4.5

    31 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    phone
    0755511234
    opening-hour
    Gates open6:00, Gates shut H…
    Jishu-jinja Shrine
    rating

    4.0

    181 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-317
    phone
    0755412097
    opening-hour
    9:00-17:00
    Otowa no Taki
    place
    Kyoto Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-chome 1
    phone
    0753436655

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