Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings


Kiyomizudera Temple 清水寺

Iconic Kyoto temple offers more than spectacular views

Situated atop a small mountain on the east side of Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera temple offers a commanding view of the city. The temple's huge, lattice-supported deck is one of the most famous images of Japan. But Kiyomizu-dera offers more than just a pretty view, with the experience of visiting beginning long before you reach the temple itself.

Don't Miss

  • The atmospheric approach to Kiyomizu-dera
  • Jishu Shrine, dedicated to the deity of matchmaking
  • Drinking from one of the streams of Otowa Waterfall for good luck

How to Get There

Kiyomizu-dera is accessible by bus from JR Kyoto Station.

From Kyoto Station, take the number 100 or 206 bus to either Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. From there, it is a 10-minute walk uphill to the temple.

The only way is up

There are many ways to reach Kiyomizu-dera. Though the ascent is fairly steep, the journey is a key part of the experience.

Two streets, named Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, lead to Kiyomizu-dera from the Gion area. 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 large street with narrow sidewalks. An alternative is heading slightly left from Gojozaka and ascending through the cemetery attached to the temple.

One of the best ways to visit Kiyomizu-dera is to go up through the cemetery and back down by Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka. But if you choose to climb up through the cemetery, remember to respect the atmosphere of this sacred space and the people laid to rest.

A bird's eye view of Kyoto

Just to the right of the main hall lies Kiyomizu-dera'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.

Jishu Shrine

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.

Okuno-in hall

From the shrine head further up to Okuno-in, another hall of the temple complex. This hall's veranda is much narrower than the main one. From this location you can get an excellent photo of the main veranda and the city of Kyoto behind it.

Otowa Waterfall

Situated at the base of the temple's main hall, Otowa Waterfall runs over a small man-made grotto and splits into three streams. 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 that it is clean for the next visitor.

Drinking from the streams is said to pass on a special virtue to the drinker. Facing the waterfall, the stream on the right promotes health and long life, the center stream love, and drinking from the left promotes academic success. But you can only drink from one stream, so choose wisely.

A temple for all seasons

Kiyomizu-dera prides itself on presenting views unique to each season. Hillsides blanketed with cherry blossoms in spring, the verdant green of summer, stark trees in winter, colored foliage in the fall; there is no bad time to visit. The temple holds illumination events during spring and fall to showcase the scenery.

Kiyomizu-dera's main hall is under renovation until 2020. You can still enter the hall and surrounding area, but photos may prove less than ideal.

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