Kiyomizudera Temple 清水寺
Iconic Kyoto temple offers more than spectacular views
Situated atop a small mountain on the east side of Kyoto, Kiyomizudera Temple offers a commanding view of the city. The temple's stage, supported by massive pillars, is one of the most famous images of Japan. But Kiyomizudera offers more than just a pretty view, with the experience of visiting beginning long before you reach the temple itself.
- The atmospheric approach to Kiyomizudera
- Jishu Shrine, dedicated to the deity of matchmaking
- Drinking from one of the streams of Otowa Waterfall for good luck
How to Get There
Kiyomizudera is accessible by bus from Kyoto Station.
From Kyoto Station , take the number 100 or 206 buses to either Gojozaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. From there, it is a 10-minute walk uphill to the temple.
The only way is up
Though the hills to the temple are fairly steep, the ascent is a rewarding experience.
Two streets, named Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, lead to Kiyomizudera from Gion . These streets are narrow, and almost exclusively for pedestrian use.
The streets are lined with shops, many of which specialize in souvenirs or snacks. Some shops feature Kiyomizu-yaki pottery and yuba, a soy-based food that is similar to tofu. Others feature specialty items, such as wooden hairpieces used when wearing kimono and even traditional Japanese fireworks.
Alternately, from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station on the Keihan Line, you can walk up Gojozaka.
A bird's eye view of Kyoto
The main hall houses Kiyomizudera's veranda, the most famous feature of the temple. Supported by traditional wooden Japanese construction, it stands 13 meters above the ground and is built without the use of nails.
The veranda is usually crowded with visitors, but it's worth venturing to the furthest corner and waiting your turn for a photo with the city of Kyoto in the background.
Behind the back of the main hall lies Jishu Shrine, best known as a place to pray for luck in romance. In front of the shrine are two large stones set in the ground. If you can walk from one stone directly to the other with your eyes closed, it is said you will be blessed with true love.
Further up from Jishu Shrine is Okunoin Temple , another inner sanctum of the temple. This hall's veranda is smaller than that of the main hall. From this location, you can get an excellent photo of the main hall and the city of Kyoto behind it.
Situated at the base of the temple's main hall, Otowa Waterfall splits into three cascades. Visitors use special long-handled ladles to drink from one of the streams.
The ladles are for public use, so be sure to pour into your hand and drink from that, not from the ladle itself. Then return it to the UV sterilizer so it's clean for the next visitor.
A temple for all seasons
Kiyomizudera prides itself on presenting views unique to each season. Hillsides blanketed with cherry blossoms in spring, the verdant green of summer, delicate trees in winter, and autumn colors in fall. There is no bad time to visit. The temple holds illumination events during spring and fall to showcase the scenery.
Kiyomizudera's main hall was renovated in 2020.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.