Keihanshin (京阪神) Episode 13: The spectacular Kiyomizudera Temple (清水寺) – Part 2/2

Not far away from the Zuigudo (随求堂) is the Todoroki Gate (普門閣), this is another gate guarding the temple, and it is also the ticket counter for entrance. Even a Wednesday afternoon, the temple is frequent by many tourists from all over the countries.

There is a water trough nearby the gate with a dragon-shape water pipe. Visitors are suppose to “purify” themselves by washing their hands and mouth before entering. By the way, the lady in the picture is a wrong example. She should only use only her right hand to handle the container. Firstly, wash the left hand; Secondly, pour the water onto the palm of your left hand and use it to wash your mouth; Third, tilt the container upward and downpour the water along the handle to wash both your right hand and the handle itself.

Walking along a corridor, there are lantern which looks like Apollo spaceship.

At the end of the corridor, there are a Iron boots and Iron sticks, which legend said that was belong to Musashibō Benkei (武藏坊辨庆), a Japanese warrior monk who was depicted of great strength and loyalty. The picture below is the iron boots (鐵下駄, Testugeta), weight about 24 kg. Visitors are allowed to try lifting them up.

The Hondo, or the Main Hall, is the National Treasure. Inside the main hall, there is a  “Eleven-faced and one-thousand-armed Bodhisattva of Compassion” (十一面千手観音像), which is opened to public every 33 years, even the academic and archaeologist are no exception. But it is still opened to public during some uncertain date or event. The last time it was opened to public was during year 2000. However, visitors are still able to explore limited area of the Main Hall.

There is a memorial plaque of the victims in the 311 earthquake last year. May them rest in peace.

The Stage (舞台) of the Main Hall with great view. Those below are Sakura tree. It is a magnificent view during Sakura blossom season and autumn leave season.

The temple had been appeared in many Japanese literature. There is a Japanese proverb “清水の舞台から飛び下りる”, which literally means “jumping off from the Stage of Kiyomizudera” or “to take the plunge” in English proverb. This is originated during Edo Period, superstitious people that if you were jumping off the 13-meter height Stage and survive, your wish will come true. According to the records, from 1694 to 1864, total of 234 people were dead as a result of jumping.

Now, this is the most photographed spot of the Kiyomizudera.

While I was there, I overheard a tour guide telling the visitors, he is willing to buy a piece of wood that was used to built the stage at any price, any time. He might sound crazy, but he is half right about it. Since the stage is built on the cliff, the material must be of great endurance and reliability. The Japanese chose the beech tree (櫸木) and support the stage in a crisscross pattern, without using a single nail. The woods had been chosen meticulously and were said that they can withstand up to 800 years, which means no restructuring required until year 2430!

No far away from the left of the Stage, is the Jishu Shrine (地主神社), which is a matchmaking shrine.

The status near the entrance of the shrine is Okuninushi-no-mikoto (大国主命), a Japanese God in charge of love and good matches. The rabbit beside him is the messenger. Legends said that Okuninushi-no-mikoto saved the rabbit before, and so the rabbit followed Him to pay the gratitude. Besides are some stalls selling blessing souvenir.  Japanese called the blessing souvenir from Shinto Shrine or Temple as “Go riyaku” (ご利益).

The famous love stone, which if you close your eye and walk from one stone to another (not in the picture) safely, you will soon find your love one.

You name it, they got it. The “Love Vow”  ( 愛のちかい) is the most popular.

This is the most visited site, called Otonowataki Spring. This is also where the Kiyomizu Temple got the name from. Kiyomizu means pure, clean water. Dera means Buddhist temple. An extract from the information board near the spring:

Enchin (延鎮), a monk from Yamato Temple Nara had a dream and was told to look for a holy water site, so he came and found Otowa-Spring (音羽の滝) here at Mt. Higashiyama (東山)where he met a hermit Gyoei (行叡居士)who gave him a log for carving in the likeness of Kannon Bosatsu (觀音菩薩), after that, the image was enshrined at the spring and this is the beginning of Kiyomizu Temple.

For this, taking the spring water became very popular among visitors. At present, Fudomyoo (不動明王) is enshrined at the spring as the guardian king instead of Kannon Bosatsu.

This holy water is right from 1000 m underneath the ground which originate from River Kamo (鴨川), the water has been running out non-stop for thousands of years through the crack of Higashiyama fault and is counted among the top ten famous water sites in Japan.

On the platform behind the water, Fudo-Myoo with 2 junior attendants are enshrined. Gyoei the hermit is next to them on the left.

The temple was named “Northen Kannon Temple” at first  since monk Enchin is from Kannon Temple in the south, then because the spring was considered to be a golden holy water for long life, also under the influence of Esoteric Buddhism, many worshippers come for the, rite of cold water ablution(水垢離), so the name was officially changed to Kiyomizu, which stands for clear water in English.

It was said that, the left one is intellectual spring, the middle one is love spring, and the right one is longevity. Local believed that, one can only choose to drink either one. If you drink more than one, your wished will not come true. Furthermore, you need to drink in one slip, if you drink twice, your chances of dream come true will become 1/2; twice will become 1/3; ……

There is a ultra violet sterilizer nearby, visitors shall put the container into the sterilizer after used.

Finally, the downhill route to the exit.

I strongly recommend for those intend to visit Japan to come to Kiyomizu Temple, especially during cherry blossom season and autumn season. Furthermore, the temple is also opened during night time at certain period. How beautiful is it? A picture speak a thousand words. (borrowed from


How to get there: From Kyoto Station, took bus number 100 and alight at Kiyomizu-michi (清水道)

Hours (day time): 06:00 ~ 18:00.(Admission 300 Yen)

Hours (Night visit): 18:30 ~ 21:30 (mid March to mid April and mid November to early December). (Admission: 400 Yen).



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