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  4. Kiyomizudera

Kiyomizudera, Kyoto

Photo © Christopher Buchanan. View all images in our Kiyomizudera Photo Gallery.
Photo © Christopher Buchanan.
Photo © solution 63.
Photo © Elia Diodati.
Photo © Christopher Buchanan.
Photo © royalt.

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.


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

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; Kiyomizudera, Kyoto; Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera; Pure Water Temple
Categories:Temples; Sacred Waters
Faiths:Buddhism; Hosso
Dates:780; present buildings 1633
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Kyoto, Japan
Coordinates:34.994958° N, 135.785047° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Kiyomizudera

Below is a location map and aerial view of Kiyomizudera. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  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

Article Info

Title:Kiyomizudera, Kyoto
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/05/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/japan/kyoto-kiyomizudera/japan/kyoto-kiyomizudera-photos">Kiyomizudera, Kyoto</a>