Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera (Temple)

Located in Higashiyama Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture in Japan, Kiyomizu-dera Temple (清水寺) is an independent Buddhist temple. It is part of the Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage of Western Japan.
Officially called Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera, the temple was founded in the year 798. Its present buildings were constructed in 1633 under the order of Tokugawa Iemitsu. The name Kiyomizu came from the Japanese words kiyo which means clean of pure and mizu which means water. It got its name from the waterfalls within the complex.
A vintage photo of the temple (photo from
Nio-mon gate
A closer photo of Nio-mon gate
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is famous for the main hall that has a large veranda which is jutting on the side of a hill and is supported by tall wooden pillars. It is said that it was built without the use of a single nail. The veranda offers an impressive panoramic view of the temple complex and the city. 
A picture taken from the pagoda
The belfry

An important rock near the front gate
Can someone please tell me what is written on the rock?
Outside one of the temples in the vicinity
The temple as seen from the pagoda

The pagoda as seen from the temple
The Pagoda
Who on earth wears a metal slipper that's as heavy as a car...
A Fujicolor info board
The most famous "angle" of the temple
Now this one is a frontal shot
The view from the veranda
Years ago, during the Edo period, the Japanese believe that if one survived the 43-foot jump from the veranda to the base of the temple, that person's wishes were granted. There were 234 recorded "jumpers" in the temple's history and about 30 of them never got the chance to see their wishes come true. (There were no recorded story of which a wish come true though.) Because of that "jumping off the stage at Kiyomizu" became prohibited to this day. (Thank goodness there would only be a small chance that you'd see a corpse at the base of the temple).
Otowa Falls
Doing some purification ritual at Otowa Falls
There are other places worth visiting in the temple complex like the Otowa waterfall. Its three channels of water falls into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink it on the belief that in doing so, they would have a long healthy and successful life. (A much better belief to follow than jumping from the veranda.)
Jizo Buddhist images
Can someone translate this for me?
My wife posing ala monk
Kiyomizu-dera Temple was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
At the entrance torii gate

Selfie near the pagoda
We visited this beautiful temple during our 9th day of stay in Japan. It is the first UNESCO World Heritage Site that my wife and I visited. Everything written on travel magazines and books were all true. Kiyomizu-dera Temple truly is captivating.

Getting there:

From Kansai International Airport, ride a JR Haruka Limited Express going to Kyoto. From there ride a bus #100 or 206. It will take you about 15 minutes to get to Kiyomizumichi or Gojo-zaka  bus stop. From there it would be a 10 minute uphill walk to get to the temple vicinity.

Overall rating


  1. I love kiyomizu dera temple. Omamori of this temple is aivalable on ... I hope one day to return to Japan

    1. Great. Thanks for visiting Marc. Hope you could send in one of those omamoris so that I could blog about them too. =P

  2. Temples have always sparked my curiosity. They're so well built and beautiful, makes you wonder how they managed it years ago!! Thanks for a great post!

  3. Such a beautiful, dream-like place. Like the ones I only see in movies, legends, and yes anime. I can only imagine how such wooden structure can hold weight. But I've always been fascinated by places of worship around the world.

  4. I Love Budhist temples, they have so good energy.
    Survive at 43 foot jump?!? I think it is impossible!

    1. Hahaha, check out this Historical stats...
      234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period (1603-1867)
      Historical records claim that the youngest jumper was 12 and the oldest 80 and, of those who jumped, 85.4% survived.

      Thank God, the practice is now prohibited.

  5. The temple architecture looks beautiful. And the purifying ritual sounds interesting. I can't imagine this temple was built in 798!! And the 43 feet jump story is so intriguing!! A must visit I would say

    1. You should visit this place someday Neha. =) The feeling is very different when you see it in person.

  6. The Kiyomizu-Dera temple looks really exquisite and surreal. The fact that its history dates back to 798 makes the place all the more intriguing. I love Japanese temples as they have a strange and mystical beauty and the Kiyomizu Dera temple does have the quality.

    1. Same here Sandy. Given the chance, I would visit all the temples of Kyoto. =)

  7. Temples/Places of worship makes people more quieter. Its good to see history being preserved. Bodhi-sattava was an Indian man who went to the east and spoke about practices like Yoga and buddhism is what we hear in a movie made in an indian language.

    1. Thanks so much for the info about Bodhi-sattava Katchu. =)

  8. Wow! What an amazing place to visit. Will definitely try to squeeze this into our Japan itinerary. My family and I are going in May ☺

  9. Ooh I went there when I joined the fam tour of CebPac in Osaka. Kiyomizu-dera is such an amazing temple. I remember waiting in line to drink from Otawa falls, it was such an interesting custom that I had fun doing it. This post made me wish Osaka. I really want to go back to Japan to explore more.

    1. Wow! Hope you get to visit Japan again soon. =)


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