28th January: Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera

Today I took train and bus to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple,  more than a thousand years old, high on a hill overlooking Kyoto.

Walking up to Kiyomizu-dera

The road to the temple goes through the Higashiyama area, which is a traditional location for artisans including ceramics, wood carving and textiles.  It is lined with shops and stalls.  Some of them sell fast food and the rest sell a wonderful array of traditional items, the products of skilled artisans rather than tacky souvenirs.

Nio-mon Gate, the main gate to the temple

By chance in the image to the left I took the same young woman ascending the stair to the gate of the Temple as in the previous image.  I didn’t even realise until I selected both images.  The right-hand image features a young woman in traditional dress who was being photographed by her companion.

The temple bell

Near the gate is this huge bell, in a bright vermillion structure with colourful decorations.

Gate near Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Here we are looking through an old gate close by the temple and in the distance (as I remember) a war memorial of some kind.

Kiyomizu Temple walkway

Parts of the temple are under renovation, as you can see in the background to the right.  The chain hanging down is like a drainpipe.

Steps to Jishu Shrine

Behind the temple, these are the steps leading up to Jishu Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to love and match-making.   The shop further up is selling good luck charms, perhaps a little like the selling of indulgences by the medieval Catholic Church in Europe.

Jishu Shrine

This is Jishu Shrine, beyond the top of the steps.  The wooden grate in front is where people throw offerings.  Near the shrine there are two special stones set in the pavement nine metres apart.  It is said that if you successfully walk from one to the other with your eyes closed, your aspirations in love will come true.  (There were too many people around for a photograph of the stones and no-one doing the walk).

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Here is a view of the massive Kiyomizu-dera Temple, with Kyoto in the background.  The temple was founded in 798, just after the capital moved to Heian-kyo (Kyoto) so it must have had particular significance in the Heian era (794-1185).  The main hall is dedicated to the goddess of mercy and compassion and is supported over the edge of the cliff by 139 wooden pillars 15m in length.

There is a saying in Japan that if you’re about to undertake some particularly daring act, you’re “jumping from the verandah of Kiyomizu Temple”.  Apparently people actually used to jump, believing their wish would come true if they survived.  234 are said to have jumped and 200 survived.

Koyasu Pagoda

And here is the Koyasu Pagoda, in front of the temple from the front entrance though we are viewing from the side.  The top of the spire is also visible in the previous image which was taken from the rear of the temple.  The pagoda was rebuilt in 1633 after a fire, along with most buildings in the complex.  It was also moved from another location in the complex in 1912.

Pre-wedding party

As I was walking out of the temple complex, I encountered some professional photographers in front of the vermillion Nio-mon Gate, taking photographs of a what I presume is a pre-wedding party.

GPS location (green arrow).

I also visited Kodai-Ji Temple but can show you nothing of this as photographs were not allowed, outside or inside.  There were remarkable wall paintings and the highlight was an exquisite zen dry rock garden that left you no alternative but to sit down and contemplate.

5 comments on “28th January: Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera

  1. […] 28th January:  Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera Share this:ShareEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Updates. Bookmark the permalink. ← 3rd February: Nara – Horyu-ji […]


  2. Greg says:

    > selling of indulgences by the medieval Catholic Church in Europe
    These are a bit more recent and close to home than that. I remember them from my childhood in Sydney


  3. […] ← 28th January: Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera 29th January: Kyoto – The Philosopher’s Walk […]


  4. […] 28th January:  Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera […]


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