Fast Facts

  • Location: 294, 1-Chome, Kiyomizu in Higashiyama-ku east of Kyoto
  • Time to Visit: On all months of the year, preferably in end March during Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Preferred timings: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entrance Fees: Â¥ 300
  • How to Reach: By bus routes 100, or 206 from Kyoto Station to Goju-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi, followed by an uphill walk of 15 minutes
  • Nearest Railway Station: Kyoto
  • Nearest International Airport: Kansai International Airport
  • Time required for sightseeing: One hour

This, according to Japanese belief, is one certain way to enliven your love life. Reach the Kiyomizu Temple and walk to the ‘Jishu Shrine’ behind the main hall or Kiyomizudera. Then jump from one rock to another blindfolded. If you can accompolish this feat successfully in front of the shrine to the deity of eternal love, you need not fear losing love in your personal life anymore. It is difficult, no doubt — but the prize of succeeding, as you can understand, is worth giving it a try.

Kiyomizu Temple in Eastern Kyoto is one of the most revered and visited temples of Japan. ‘Kiyomizudera’ or ‘pure water temple’ is named after a spring located below the shrine. This temple in the wooded hill slopes was established by the Hosso sect of Japanese Buddhists in 780 AD. Except for the very early morning hours the temple and its vicinity is teeming with people and full of activity.

A number of popular beliefs are associated with Kiyomizo Temple in Japan. The spring water supposedly has therapeutic qualities and can cure many diseases. The best time to come to Kiyomizu temple is during the cherry blossom festival in end March. The sight of blooming cherry trees in the spring time is inexplicable. Please note that the cherry blossom festival is held in spring season and the exact date varies from region to region starting earlier in the south and later as you move northwards.

The legend behind setting up the Kiyomizu temple is engrossing. Enchin a Buddhist priest dreamt of discovering an alternative source of water near the source of River Yodo. During his search Enchin met Gyoei a hermit who was practicing asceticism. Gyoei handed a piece of wood supposedly possessed by the spirit of Kannon Bosatsu, Goddess of Mercy, to Enchin. Thereafter Enchin carved out the figure of Kannon Bosatsu from that wood piece and enshrined it in a small thatched hut. The legend further states that Gyoei disappeared after meeting Enchin leaving his pair of sandals at the hill top. It is believed that Gyoei himself was a manifestation of Kannon (incarnation of Buddha). The story of forming Kiyomizu Temple does not end here.

Sakanoue Tamuramaro, a general of the imperial army chanced upon Enchin while deer hunting in the forests of Kiyomizu. It was believed that a deer’s blood relieves labor pain. Tamuramaro had come to collect deer’s blood for his wife who was to deliver a child. However on hearing a lesson on cruelty to animals from Enchin, Tamuramaro was filled with remorse and decided to repent. Consequently, he financed the construction of a shrine in Kiyomizu.

The emperor being pleased with the services of Tamuramaro gifted him the throne hall of his new capital in Kyoto in 794 AD. Tamuramaro in turn donated the hall to Enchin for setting up a sanctuary which however was destroyed by fire in 1629. The buildings that you see now were reconstructed by Iemitsu Tokugawa in 1633.

Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site early in the morning when it is quiet and peaceful. As the day rolls people throng in and the serenity is destroyed. Collect Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, typical of this place, from the outlets along the path to the temple.

It is a great experience to spend a couple of nights in a ‘ryokan’, Japanese traditional inns, while touring Kiyomizu. You will be amazed by their ‘tatami’ mats used for squatting or kneeling, and ‘futons’ or Japanese beds. After you enter a ‘ryokan’ you are supposed to remove your shoes and put on slippers provided at the ‘ryokan’. Even these slippers are to be removes while stepping on the ‘tatami’ mats. During your stay you will be required to wear a ‘yukata’, or Japanese robe provided by the ‘ryokan’ you are staying in.

If you aspire to become Japanese for at least a couple of days, enjoy the ethereal sight of blooming cherry trees, taste pure spring water, and meditate in the stillness of a fabled temple then Kiyomizudera is the perfect place. You visit this place once, and you would fall in love with it.

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