Kiyomizudera, Kyoto

One of Japan's most popular temples, Kiyomizudera (???; also spelled Kiyomizu-dera; "Pure Water Temple") was founded in 780 AD and still functions as a temple associated with the Hosso sect of Japanese Buddhism.

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History of Kiyomizudera

Although Kiyomizudera was founded in 780 AD, the present temple complex was rebuilt in 1633 by the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. Kiyomizudera's architecture was subsequently imitated by other temples all over Japan and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

What to See at Kiyomizudera

Kiyomizudera occupies an excellent location on a steep hill in eastern Kyoto. The quaint street leading up to the temple is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and ryokan (Japanese-style inns). The temple grounds have open-air pavilions providing beer and noodles and countless hawkers offering talismans, incense, and o-mikuji (paper fortunes).

The main hall of Kiyomizudera is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. It is notable for its vast veranda, supported by 139 wooden pillars (each 49 feet high), which juts out over the hillside and offers beautiful views of the city. The views and temple grounds are especially lovely during the spring and autumn.

The expression "to jump off the porch at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge." This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive jumping from the terrace, one's wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and of those, 85.4% survived.

Beneath the main hall is the Otowa-no-taki ("Sound of Feathers") waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond. Visitors to the temple collect the water from the falls in metal cups and drink it for health, longetivity, and wisdom, respectively. Traditionally, one should only choose two; being greedy and drinking from all three can bring misfortune.

The temple complex contains several other shrines, notably Jishu-jinja, decidated to Okuninushino-Mikoto, a god of love and "good matches." Near the shrine are two rocks placed several meters apart - successfully walking from one rock to the other with your eyes closed means that you will find love. You can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that an intermediary will be needed.

Be prepared: the high popularity of the place means that tourists will find it difficult to take pictures on the main temple's platform.

Getting There

Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station in about 15 minutes by bus. Take bus number 100 or 206 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka. From there it is a 10-15 minute uphill walk to the temple.

Quick Facts on Kiyomizudera

Site Information
Names:Kiyomizudera · Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera · Pure Water Temple
Country:Japan
Categories:temples; World Heritage Sites; megalithic monuments
Dedication: Kannon
Dates:780; present buildings 1633
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:34.994958° N, 135.785047° E
Address:1-294 Kiyomizu Higashiyama-ku
Kyoto, Japan
Phone:075/551-1234
Website:www.kiyomizudera.or.jp
Hours:Daily 6am-6pm (until 6:30pm in summer); Jishu Shrine closes at 5pm
Lodging:View hotels near Kiyomizudera
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Kiyomizu-dera - Fodor's Japan
  2. Kiyomizu Temple (Kiyomizudera) - Frommer's Japan
  3. Kiyomizu-dera - Wikipedia
  4. Official website of Kiyomizu-dera
  5. Official website of Jishu-jinja
  6. Kiyomizudera Temple Map - Planetware (Baedecker)

More Information

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© Christopher Buchanan
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Map of Kiyomizudera, Kyoto

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