Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera: A Top Three Destination

 They say you get sick of temples after sightseeing in Japan as much as I have. But Kyoto is the "home" of temples and there are some very nice ones in town. Kiyomizu-dera, like many of the famous temples, has something unique to call its own.
 Located in the hills on the east side, the approach is a somewhat tough but short uphill walk including many of the stairs. You know you're there when you reach the gate.
 Depending on your approach, you will walk up or down the shopping street that leads to the temple. This is a good area to browse, perhaps get a snack like matcha (green tea) ice cream, and if it's the end of the day get some of your souvenirs.
 But the temple itself, set back in the trees, is quite attractive.
 Actually, the area in front of the temple is perhaps the most beautiful spot, with the stone statues, steps, and gate in the background.
 It's perfect for some young ladies wearing yukatas or kimonos to take some pictures.
Photos with and without the girl. Take your pick.

The inner temple itself was so crowded I had to skip it when I visited. I'll hopefully be able to visit again when it's not so busy to see what lies in the paid area. There are several spots on the temple grounds worth visiting, including some nice views of the area or of the temple itself, and a couple areas which are said to bring good luck by completing some tasks.

Before entering the paid area, there is another one of those small buildings, called Zuigudo Hall. For a separate small fee here you can wander through a pitch black basement that is supposed to symbolize a mother's womb. This was my second time traveling through a dark passageway at a temple - the other two were in Nagano and in Tokyo. Zuigudo's experience was better than Nagano's Zenkoji, mainly due to the crowding in Zenkoji. Tokyo's Gyokushin Mitsuin Temple was the best so far, though it wasn't pitch black for the entire journey.

So it's a top three because it's one of three with pitch black tunnel adventures. But it's also one of the three most important places to visit in Kyoto: Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, and the Higashiyama District.

Entry into Kiyomizu-dera is only 300 yen, and it's open 6:00-18:00 year round. The easiest access is by bus 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station; get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi and walk about 10 minutes uphill. The temple is located at the southern end of Higashiyama, which has plenty to see as well; the Higashiyama area can easily take a full day to explore and appreciate.

No comments:

Post a Comment