One of the most visited temple of all Japan is Kiyomizu temple, in Kyoto-city. Kiyo (清) means clear or pure and mizu (水) means water. Thus the temple of pure water, a well deserved name for the delicious water coming from a spring nearby is much sought after.
Kiyomizu temple is really a beautiful temple, on the mountain-side above Kyoto. On a clear day, it offers a nice view of the whole city.
In the spring, many cherry blossom trees decorate the temple in a spectacular way, giving visitors one of the most beautiful views in the city. It is surpassed only by the fall season, where the colored maple trees are simply breath-taking.
All four seasons are spectacular in Kiyomizu Temple.
Kiyomizu-Dera was founded in 778 by Enchin and belongs to the Kita Hôso sect.
Not one nail is used in the whole temple. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. (the waterfall is behind the photographer in the above pictures)
It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from the Nara era but, in 1965 it changed the affiliation to the current one.
The current buildings were built in 1633 during the restauration ordered by the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu.
The temple is dedicated to the eleven faced and forty-two arms Kannon bosatsu.(to the left) This main object of worship (Gohonzon) is a national treasure.
Other statues in the temple include Bishamonten (below) and Jizo.
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. You then have to climb up the steep hill lined up with shops, restaurants and Japanese inns called ryokans. It takes about 10 minutes. I recommend browsing the shops on your way up but you'll have more time to visit on the way down.
Here is what you can expect to see on your way up:
Once in the temple compound, you can visit the many different areas of the temple.
First off, there is the main gate at the entrance, painted red and white, this gate separates the mondain world with the sacred but it doesn't stop the throng of people heading, like you to the temple. Right there, there is a corner where you can get a nice picture of Kyoto, with the tower in the background.
Near the entrance, just to the left of the pagoda, there is Tainai-meguri (admission ¥100; 9am-4pm), There you can enter the womb of Daizuigu Bosatsu, a female Bodhisattva who has the power to grant any human wish.
Let's just say that the experience is both peaceful and very beautiful in its own way. You are plunged in a pitch black hallway and meant to find a glowing stone. Walk slowly and feel for the walls.
Next there is the famous platform of Kiyomizu with an even grander view of the city and of the pagoda surrounded by forest on a distant hill across the valley. On this platform you can see the statue of a Buddha. There is also a huge encense pot where you can make an offering and ring the great bell.
If you go past the platform to the right, you will see the famous little water "fall" called Otowa-no-taki spring which is more water gushing from a spout with people lining up to drink from it.
To do so, you have to use the available laddles which are in a special countainer and bombared by UV light in order to kill the bacterias of the thousands of people using them every day. When I went there it was free but i think it's now 200 Yen to sample the water, which has healing proprieties.
Despite the fear of disease, the water is actually very nice and a picture of you drinking from the source is a classic at Kiyomizu Dera.
If you continue to the right, there are some shops and some trail you can take around a nice garden bursting with life.
The the left of the platform, there is a smaller shrine called Jishu-jinja, the ‘Love Shrine’. Since the samurai period, people come there to pray for love. There are tow stones separated by 18 meters. If one succeed at walking between the two stones in a straight line, his wish for love will be granted.
s in English.) Before you enter the actual temple precincts, we strongly recommend that you take a few minutes to check out one of the oddest ‘sights’ that we’ve come across at a Japanese temple: the Tainai-meguri (admission ¥100; 9am-4pm), the entrance to which can be found just to the left (north) of the pagoda that is located in front of the main entrance to the temple (you may have to ask a temple official since there is no English sign). We don’t want to tell you too much about this hall as it will take away from the experience. Suffice to say, by entering the hall, you are figuratively entering the womb of Daizuigu Bosatsu, a female Bodhisattva who has the power to grant any human wish. Once you get to the inner sanctum, you are meant to turn the large stone found there in a clockwise direction and make your wish. Be warned, there are several 90-degree turns to navigate in the darkness – walk slowly and keep a hand in front of you.
More coming soon:
for the time being, Here's a travelog's experience at Kiyomizu-dera.