Kiyomizu-dera Temple was first built in 798 and is considered one of the most famous landmarks of Kyoto. The name Kiyomizu-dera literally means “Pure Water Temple” and it takes its name from the pure waters of nearby Otowa Waterfall. It is located in the hills east of Kyoto and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to see at Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Nio-mon and Sai-mon Gate
The Nio-mon Gate is the main entrance to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and can be seen on the left. Nio-mon means the gate of the two Nio guardians.
The Sai-mon Gate, which can be seen on the right, means West Gate.
Chawan-zaka (Teapot Lane)
Chawan zaka, which is part of the Higashiyama District, is the steep approach to the temple. The small lane is lined with shops selling Kyoto handicrafts, snacks and souvenirs. There is an amazing atmosphere here and is part of the whole fun experience of visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
The Main Hall of Kiyomizu-dera Temple
The main hall of Kiyomizu-dera Temple has a huge wooden veranda that is supported by hundreds of pillars, that jut out over the hillside. It overs impressive views of the hills and the city of Kyoto. An Edo period tradition was that if you could survive a jump from the veranda, which is a 13m jump, your wish would be granted. This practice is now prohibited!
The main hall houses a priceless statue of the Kannon Bodhisattva, the goddess of mercy.
Jishu Shrine is a shrine dedicated to Okuninushi, a god of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two love stones, which are 18 meters apart. Legend says that if you can find your way from one stone to the other with your eyes closed you will find true love. If you miss the stone then your desire for love won’t be fulfilled. You can have help with someone guiding you to be successful, but this means that a go-between will also be needed for you to find love as well.
Otowa no taki Waterfall sits just below the main hall of Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Here you can drink from its sacred waters, which are divided into three separate streams that fall into a pond. Each stream’s water is said to have a different wish granting property from health, longevity, to wisdom. Take care however, if you drink from all three streams it is bad luck and is considered greedy. Use the cups attached to long poles to select the water of your choice.
History of Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu-dera Temple was first built in 798, as an affiliate of the Hosso school of Buddhism., which originated in Nara. The current buildings are reconstructions of the original and date from 1633. An interesting fact is there is not a single nail used in the construction of the entire structure.
In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera Temple was a finalist for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple and grounds are open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Admission is Free for the Temple and Grounds
Entry to the Main Hall is 300 yen
How to Get There
From JR Kyoto Station take bus No 100 or 206 and get off at the Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. It is about a 15 minute bus ride and costs 220 yen. It is about a 10 minute walk up the hill to reach the temple from the bus stop.
Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Best Time to Go
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is beautiful during all the seasons in Japan, but is truly spectacular during the cherry blossom season in spring and the changing leaves of autumn.
Tip: The Higashiyama District along with Kiyomizu-dera and other temples in the area have special evening illuminations during the spring and autumn. These are spectacular and only add to the atmosphere of this amazing place.