Kiyomizudera in an autumn night

Kiyomizudera 清水寺
(Kiyomizu Temple)

The charismatic Kiyomizudera is top on the list for most visitors to Kyoto. Its impressive main hall stands over a cliff and extends its veranda out onto a platform supported by tall wooden pillars. Not a single nail is used in the building of the hall and the support system - quite an architectural feat.

Highlights: View from and of the main hall.
Drink from the Otowa Waterfall.
Stroll Sannenzaka Shopping Street at the foot of the temple.
Location: Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
When to visit: All year. In particular, when the cherry blossoms bloom around early April and when autumn colours appear around late November to early December.
Admission: 1 to 700 yen
Opening hours: 6:00 to 18:00 (open till 21:30 during the cherry blossom and autumn colour season)
Recommended duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
Accessibility: Accessible by both private and public transport, although public transport is generally recommended in Kyoto during the peak spring and fall seasons.
Other considerations: There is a route for visitors with wheel chairs and strollers.
Location of Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple's origin dates back to the 8th century, making it one of the oldest temples in Kyoto. Legend has it that a general passed by the area in search of water, and met the priest Enchin here. Thankful for the spiritual guidance the priest imparted, the general later helped to erect a temple here dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon. Most of the present buildings were reconstructed in the 1600s in the style of the original ones.

The temple has many important cultural properties and became a designated Unesco World Heritage site in 1994. Points of interest include:

Niōmon 仁王門 (Niō Gate) - The vermilion gate at the foot of the temple is a good photo spot. Have a look at the statues of two deva kings guarding each side of the gate.

Three-storied pagoda - the prominent landmark uses colours popular during the Momoyama Period (late 16th century). It is the largest three-storied pagoda in the country.

Hondō 本堂 (main hall) - The hall is a designated national treasure. Marvel at the beautiful wooden architecture and notice that the building was erected without nails. The hall houses many Buddhist statues. Try to lift two iron staffs of different sizes, placed at the left of the hall. They were gifts to the temple by pilgrims during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Enjoy great views of Kyoto City and the Kyoto Tower from the verandah.

Jishu Shrine - An example of a Shinto shrine co-existing within a temple. Lovers can offer a prayer here as this shrine is dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. It is located behind the main hall.

Oku-no-in 奥の院 (inner hall) - The inner hall is a smaller version of the main hall and is also built on wooden pillars. The best representative pictures of the main hall are taken from the inner hall's corridor.

Otowa-no-taki 音羽の瀧 (Otowa Waterfall) - Kiyomizudera literally means "Pure Water Temple". The temple is named after Otowa Waterfall, the source of clean natural water since ancient times. Today, the waterfall falls from three channels; it is said that one can achieve spiritual calmness and have his wishes fulfilled by drinking from the waterfall.

Do not miss:
Sannen-zaka (三年坂) and Ninen-zaka (二年坂) - Literally meaning the "Three Year Slope" and the "Two Year Slope", these preserved districts at the foot of the temple are attractions by themselves. Stroll the picturesque and traditional-looking sloping streets, mingle with the crowd and listen to the shop owners calling out to beckon customers. This is one of the best places in Kyoto to buy some souvenirs and desserts.

GPS information
Google map co-ordinates: 34.994883,135.784983
Map Code: 7 559 886
Telephone: +81 075-551-1234
Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Postal Code: 605-0862
Japanese characters: きよみずでら
Parking: Not available at the temple. Use city parking lot (Tel: 075-561-4601)
From To Transportation Travel Time One-way Fare Remarks
Kyoto Station Gojōzaka (五条坂) bus-stop Bus 206 or 100 15 mins About 250 yen 10 mins walk from the bus-stop to the temple
Kiyomizu-Gojo Station Kiyomizudera Walk 25 mins Kiyomizu-Gojo Station is on the Keihan Railway Line

External link - Kyoto bus map by Kyoto City Bus

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