Kiyomizu-dera Temple: A Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera is a temple that sits atop Mt. Otawa, overlooking Kyoto. Seriously, the view here is spectacular! Kiyomizu-dera, founded in 778, is a temple of one of the six sects of Nara Buddhism: Kita-Hosso sect. It is a northern {what Kita Hosso translate to} branch of the Kofuku-ji temple in Nara. 

Kiyomizu-dera means pure water. It's an ode to the waterfalls prudently cascading down Mt. Otawa. The temple granted the  UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site back in 1994 as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

I haven't been here in quite a long time. I was in a tourist bus the last time I was here, so I recoiled from the thought of an uphill trek prior to the visit. I thought that it was going to be, at the very least, partially steep. It wasn't. The photo above is one of the roads going up to Kiyomizu-dera. 

Going there is fairly easy. You can either take a cab or a bus. We took the city bus from Kyoto Station. City Buses {green} 206, 100, and 110 all go there. The bus ride is around 15 minutes. Add another 10 minutes to that for walking from the bus stop to the temple.

You won't get lost, trust me. There are just too many safety nets. 

Google maps is one. If you don't have access to it, follow the signs. There are signs everywhere. If you're taking the bus, the automated voice announcement will tell you where to get off.  There's a huge chance that half of the bus riders are tourists. Follow them as soon as you step out of the bus. If all else fail, you can always ask someone. They're very nice, so that helps a lot.

From the bus stop, you can already spot the three-story pagoda at the end of the road. The picture above is the Shimizu New Way Chawan-Zaka street. I was looking for that guy who creates the Kanji necklace that Johnny Depp has that's why we opted for this road. I found him, by the way. I'll post about that wooden necklace soon.

If you take Shimizu New Way Chawan-Zaka, you'll hit Sai-mon or the west gate of Kiyomizu-dera.

Most people go to the other street, which is Matsubara Dori. That's where all the shops are. If you take that road, you'll be greeted by the Nio-mon {above} or the main entrance of Kiyomizu-dera.

There's an entrance fee of ¥300 for adults and ¥200 for those 18 y/o and under, by the way. 

The Hono {Main Hall} is undoubtedly the most photographed structure at Kiyomizu. Hugged by maple and cherry trees, the Hinoki Wooden Stage of the main hall is reconstructed in 1633. 

It is lined with 410 hinoki boards and supported by an interlocking grid-like pattern of 13-meter high pillars made from zelkova trees.

What makes this structure extra interesting is that there's not a single nail used to build it, and it is earthquake-proof. It's pretty amazing, isn't it?

Eons ago, people would jump over the Hinoki Wooden Stage because they believed that if you survive the fall, your wish will be granted. The birth of the Japanese aphorism "to jump off the stage of Kyomizu" was due to that. That's the equivalent of the idiom "taking the plunge".

The practice has long been prohibited. It's a myth, so don't even think of doing that unless you have a death wish. Don't jump!

Removing your shoes is mandatory just like in any other temple in Japan. This rule applies to the homes as well. I have the same rule in my house, actually. So if you ever visit me, please leave your shoes outside the main door. Thank you.

Above is the, well, partial interior of the main hall. There's quite a queue starting at the entrance to ring the bell and pray. I didn't take photos inside out of respect. I don't want people taking photos of me when I pray so.

Above are two paths that will lead you to the Otawa Waterfall. Take the one on the left. It'll take you a little longer to reach the bottom, but you will have a great photo vantage point of the Hono and the city of Kyoto if you take that route.

The path going down the Otawa Waterfall

When we got to the bottom, there's a long line snaking around the buildings near the Otawa Waterfall. This was about 10:30 in the morning. The line moved quite fast, though.

This is the perfect hypothetical question turned into reality. There are three streams: success in school, fantastic love life, and longevity. Your wish will be granted if you drink from it; only one. Which one would you choose? Your choice is not included, huh? I feel you.

Can you drink from all three? Sure! However, your wish will not be granted if you do that. You can only drink from one. That's rule no. 1. Modify your greed.

Rule no. 2: For your wish to be granted, you have to take it all down in one huge gulp. Don't fill the cup up to the brim if you don't want to start gagging there like crazy. 

Silver lining: nobody knows who you are. The downside: someone will take a video of you choking on water and post it on Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat with a caption "Greedy Idiot". Not cool. Take only what you can drink. 

I love hypothetical questions, by the way. My friends know this about me. I constantly ask them the most obtusely trivial questions. Why? Because you can tell so much about one's character when he/she is fed with huge what-ifs.

Ema are wooden plaques where people write down their wishes on. There are a couple of shops peppered at the grounds where you can buy these from.

I just find this one to be a pretty scene. This lady pensively looks at the pond near the entrance of Kiyomizu-dera. 

Student buying prayer plaques. Everywhere we went, we saw students being fully exposed by their teachers to their rich culture. It's truly fantastic. How I wish they could constantly do that in this part of the world. 

The day we visited Kiyomizu-dera was quite a scorcher. Thankfully, there's a kakigōri place near  the Otawa Waterfall. My boys ordered Matcha and Strawberry with Milk. I got plain Strawberry. They were a delicious reprieve on a hot day. 

We took Matsubara Dori after we left Kiyomizu-dera for some shopping and munching. We were headed to the preserved districts of Kyoto. That's for my next post - which I will finish soon...hopefully. 

294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 
Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan

Onward and Upward!


Post a Comment

Comments are very much appreciated! Thank you!