Kiyomizu-dera

sights / Religious

Kiyomizu-dera information

Location
Kyoto , Japan
Address
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku
Getting there
Train: Keihan line to Kiyomizu-Gojō
Bus: Kyoto City bus 206 to Kiyōmizu-michi or Gojō-zaka
Prices
admission ¥300
Opening hours
6am-6pm
Something wrong?
Submit a correction

A buzzing hive of activity perched on a hill overlooking the basin of Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is one of Kyoto's most popular and most enjoyable temples. It may not be the tranquil refuge that many associate with Buddhist temples, but it represents the popular expression of faith in Japan. For those with children in tow, this temple is sure to delight as there are plenty of things to do here.

This ancient temple was first built in 798, but the present buildings are reconstructions dating from 1633. As an affiliate of the Hossō school of Buddhism, which originated in Nara, it has successfully survived the many intrigues of local Kyoto schools of Buddhism through the centuries and is now one of the most famous landmarks of the city (for which reason it can get very crowded during spring and autumn).

The Hondō (Main Hall) has a huge veranda that is supported by pillars and juts out over the hillside. Just below this hall is the waterfall Otowa-no-taki , where visitors drink sacred waters believed to bestow health and longevity. Dotted around the precincts are other halls and shrines. At Jishu-jinja , the shrine up the steps above the main hall, visitors try to ensure success in love by closing their eyes and walking about 18m between a pair of stones – if you miss the stone, your desire for love won't be fulfilled! Note that you can ask someone to guide you, but if you do, you'll need someone's assistance to find your true love.

Before you enter the actual temple precincts, check out the Tainai-meguri , the entrance to which is just to the left (north) of the pagoda that is located in front of the main entrance to the temple (there is no English sign). We won't tell you too much about it as it will ruin the experience. Suffice to say that by entering the Tainai-meguri, you are symbolically entering the womb of a female bodhi­sattva. When you get to the rock in the darkness, spin it in either direction to make a wish.

The steep approach to the temple is known as Chawan-zaka (Teapot Lane) and is lined with shops selling Kyoto handicrafts, local snacks and souvenirs.

Check at the Tourist Information Center (TIC) for the scheduling of special night-time illuminations of the temple held in the spring and autumn.