The Kiyomizu temple harks back 1,200 years since its foundation and gets its name, meaning “pure water temple”, from the pure waters of the waterfall. It is located on top of a peak on the Higashiyama mountain range and is famous for its wooden stage that seemingly protrudes into the air, 13m above the ground, that was used for noh performances to worship the gods.
The temple and its stage offer a spectacular view of sakura in spring and red maple leaves in autumn. However, after the spring of 2017, the main temple building and the stage will be closed for repair and unveiled again only in 2020, so do try to catch the last spring season before then.
After capturing your photo with the Kiyomizudera from the classic angle, framing the main temple and pagoda in the background, proceed along the one-way path that leads you down the mountain towards the Otawa Waterfall. Here, you will find three streams of water flowing out from three sources, and visitors can drink from them – each is supposed to represent longevity, academic success and a blessed love life respectively. Drinking from all three, however, is generally considered greedy and frowned upon.
The Kiyomizudera Temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect of Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hossa sect in 1965. It was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. Visitors pay respect to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, here.