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Kiyomizu-dera

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

1-chōme-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Opening Hours

6:00 AM - 6:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 400

Find it on google maps

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expert
Wisnu
Local tour guide
"Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple right when it opens or during weekday mornings to avoid the large crowds and enjoy a more serene experience. Additionally, head to the small waterfall within the temple grounds where locals believe drinking from it brings different benefits — just look for the less crowded spout, as each offers the same water."

What is Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, often shortened to Kiyomizu Temple, is an iconic Buddhist temple located in Eastern Kyoto, Japan. Known for its vast wooden stage that juts out from the main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below, the temple offers breathtaking views of cherry blossoms and maple trees, as well as of the city of Kyoto itself. Founded in the late Nara period, Kiyomizu-dera is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. This impressive structure is a testament to traditional Japanese architecture, as it was built without the use of a single nail.

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It derives its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills and flows into the Otowa Waterfall. The temple complex includes several other shrines and halls, one of which enshrines a particularly revered statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon. Pilgrims and tourists alike visit Kiyomizu-dera not only for its religious significance but also for the splendid panoramic views that have inspired countless poets and artists throughout the centuries.

History of Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The history of Kiyomizu-dera Temple dates back to 778, although the present buildings were constructed in 1633 under the patronage of Tokugawa Iemitsu. Its origins trace to the early Heian period when a monk named Enchin dreamt of the sacred waters of the Otowa Waterfall. Following this vision, the warrior Sakanoue no Tamuramaro discovered the waterfall and constructed the temple upon Enchin's request, dedicating it to the deity of mercy and compassion, Kannon.

Over the centuries, Kiyomizu-dera has seen many renovations and expansions. It has been destroyed by fires and earthquakes but painstakingly reconstructed, adhering to traditional techniques and designs. The temple's history reflects its resiliency and the persistent devotion of the Japanese people to this sacred site. Additionally, Kiyomizu-dera has played an important role in the development of Japanese Buddhism, hosting monks and scholars who contributed to religious thought and practice within the country.

Why is Kiyomizu-dera Temple Important?

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is important for several reasons. Spiritually, it is a significant place of worship that encapsulates the syncretic blend of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs that is unique to Japan. The Kannon statue housed here is considered to be one of the most sacred. People from all walks of life come to pray for various blessings, including success, health, and particularly for love and matchmaking, as the deity is believed to grant wishes.

Culturally, Kiyomizu-dera represents a masterpiece of human creative genius, particularly its main hall and stage, which were constructed based on ingenious engineering methods. The temple's influence extends beyond spirituality into the arts, inspiring numerous works of poetry, theater, and visual arts. The expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is a popular Japanese idiom for taking a bold, decisive action, indicating the deep metaphorical significance the temple holds in Japanese culture.

Moreover, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu-dera holds international significance as a symbol of cultural heritage. It brings together people from around the globe, fostering a sense of global community and shared historical experience. Visitors often feel a strong sense of awe and wonder at the temple's majestic architecture against the mountain backdrop—experiences that are deeply enriching and universally revered.

Things to Do & See at Kiyomizu-dera Temple

When visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple, there is a plethora of activities to engage in and sights to behold. Of course, you must walk the iconic wooden stage of the main hall, which offers a stunning vantage point of Kyoto city and the surrounding nature. In the fall, this view is complemented by a vibrant tapestry of autumn colors, while in spring, the cherry blossoms provide a delicate and serene display.

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  • Make sure to taste the water of the Otowa Waterfall, which is divided into three separate streams. Each stream is believed to grant a different benefit: longevity, success at school, or a fortunate love life. It's considered improper to drink from all three, so choose wisely.
  • Visit the Jishu Shrine behind the main hall, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches." Here, you can find two stones placed 18 meters apart—successfully walking from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to grant success in finding love.
  • Explore the various subsidiary temples, pagodas, and the three-storied Koyasu pagoda which is believed to aid in childbirth.
  • Participate in the seasonal illumination events which dramatically highlight the temple's beauty against the night sky, offering a completely different perspective and atmosphere.

Don't forget to explore the small shops and stalls on the approach to Kiyomizu-dera, known as the Higashiyama District. Here, you can enjoy traditional sweets, pickles, and pottery—a perfect opportunity to take a piece of Kyoto home with you. Whether you're drawn to its profound history, spiritual aura, or simply the stunning views, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is an experience that embodies the soul of Kyoto.

Frequently asked questions

What is Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is an iconic Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, that is known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The temple offers impressive views of the surrounding city and nature, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

How do I get to Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

Kiyomizu-dera Temple can be accessed by bus from Kyoto Station. You can take bus numbers 100 or 206 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka stop and walk uphill for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can walk for around 25 minutes from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station on the Keihan Railway.

What is the best time to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

The best time to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple is during the spring for the cherry blossoms or fall for the autumn foliage. These seasons offer the most scenic beauty. Additionally, visiting early in the morning can help you avoid the crowds.

Is there an admission fee for Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

Yes, there is an admission fee for Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The fee varies depending on the areas of the temple complex you wish to visit, but the main hall typically requires a ticket. Check the official website or contact the temple for the most current pricing.

Are there any special events or festivals held at Kiyomizu-dera Temple?

Kiyomizu-dera Temple hosts several annual events and festivals. Notable among them is the 'Seiryu-e' (dragon festival) in the spring and autumn, 'Kiyomizu-dera Temple Light-up' during the cherry blossom and autumn leaves seasons, and special night viewings at certain times of the year. For exact dates and events, it's best to refer to the temple's official schedule.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

1-chōme-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Opening Hours

6:00 AM - 6:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 400

Find it on google maps