294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, JapanGetting there
From Kyoto Station it takes about 20 minutes by bus. Take bus number #100 or #206 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka. From there it is a 15-minute walk up a hill. From Keihan Gojo Station, a 20-minute walk. From Shijo-Kawaramachi, take the #207, #80, or #85 bus.
By bicycle from Kiyomizudera to Chionin if visiting Kiyomizu on two wheels.
+81-075-642-2153More information Prices
Adults: 300 yen
Junior and elementary school students: 200 yen
6am- around 6pm, the gate close time varies by season (5:30pm-6:30pm)
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Kyoto’s must-see attractions. It’s a bustling riot of commerce and schlock, but it’s a lot of fun, especially for the kids.
Kiyomizudera (清水寺, literally "Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple's primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon.
Behind Kiyomizudera's main hall stands Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 meters apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to bring luck in finding love. You can also have someone guide you from one stone to the other, but that is interpreted to mean that an intermediary will be needed in your love life as well.
The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.
Other structures on the spacious temple grounds include the Okunoin Hall, which resembles the main hall on a smaller scale and has also a stage. Near the Okunoin are halls dedicated to Shaka Buddha (the historical Buddha) and Amida Buddha, as well as a small hall with nearly 200 stone statues of Jizo, the protector of children and travelers. The three-storied Koyasu Pagoda stands among the trees in the far southern end of the temple grounds, and a visit is said to bring about an easy and safe childbirth.
Around the entrance of Kiyomizudera, outside the paid area, stand various other temple buildings, including a vermilion three storied pagoda, a repository for sutras, large entrance gates and the Zuigudo Hall which is dedicated to Buddha's mother and where against a small entrance fee you can wander the pitch black basement that symbolizes a mother's womb.
Part of the fun of visiting Kiyomizudera is the approach to the temple along the steep and busy lanes of the atmospheric Higashiyama District. The many shops and restaurants in the area have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries, and products on sale range from local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets and pickles to the standard set of souvenirs.
The Higashiyama district together with Kiyomizudera, Yasaka Shrine and other temples in the area, have special evening illuminations during the annual Hanatoro event held in mid March. Kiyomizudera also has special illuminations during the autumn leaf season in the second half of November.
Kiyomizudera Temple was first built in 778. Since then, it has been supported by huge public devotion as one of the biggest religious symbols. In other words, it has been a spiritual hometown for all Japanese people, which is really unique unlike most other temples in Japan.
The name of Kiyomizu means clear and holy water which has never stoped in the waterfall named Otowa.
Fortunately, the temple is now such a famous tourist spot that there are many visitors not only from Japan
but also from all over the world. Hopefully, they have a moment to feel peaceful in their minds and hearts.
History of Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu-dera is composed of several Buddhist temples and is a must see on a visit to Kyoto. Kiyomizu temple was founded in 798 C.E., and it is named for a waterfall on the grounds ("Kiyoi mizu" means pure water), which is pictured at right above.
As you climb the stairs to the entrance on your left is the Uma-todome - a set of wooden horse stalls from the Edo Period that was used by visiting samurai. Kiyomizu Temple is entered through the Nio-mon Gate, a two-story structure guarded by two Deva statues or Nio and two koma-inu (Lion dogs). The next gate is the Sai-mon with a cypress-bark roof held up by eight pillars. The gate is decorated with carved elephant heads.
The original Kiyomizu Temple dates from the eighth century C.E, when the Shishinden Hall of the Imperial Palace at Nagaoka was moved here. The present buildings were re-erected in 1633 on the orders of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. A two-storey gate to the west serves as the main entrance, with statues of Kongo-Rikishi standing in niches on both sides.
The main image of the Shishinden is an 11-headed statue of Kannon - the Buddhist goddess of mercy, believed to have been carved by the priest Enchin in the 7th century. The image called a Juichimen-Senju-Sengen-Kannon, is only displayed every 33 years.
Close by is a belfry (Shoro) with the bell cast in 1478 and a fine three-storey pagoda, Sanju-no-to, dating from 1633, while to the east are the Scripture Hall and the Founder's Hall. Asakurado or Asakura Hall was built by Sadakage Asakura (1473-1512), a Buddhist devout and son of the emperor Temmu.
Things to see at Kiyomizu-dera
The most well-known aspect of Kiyomzu dera is the huge veranda of the main hall. It juts out on wooden pillars and is an impressive site. "To jump from the balcony of Kiyomizu" is an old Japanese saying meaning to do something daring and courageous.
After taking in the views of Kyoto city from the veranda - below left - most tourists wander down to the Otowa waterfall below. The water is said to have healing properties and here worshippers offer prayers to Fudo-Myo-o, who is believed to punish evil-doers. Long-handled cups are provided to drink the water.
To the right of Otowa Falls are three small halls: Shaka-do, Amida-do and Okuno-in. The Shakado was rebuilt after it collapsed in a mudslide in 1972. The Amida-do has an image of the Amida Nyorai, the Buddha of the Western Paradise and it is said that the priest Honen in 1188 proclaimed his doctrine of nenbutsu or praise to the Amida Buddha, thus beginning the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. The Okuno-in is a thatched structure said to be the spot where Enchin encountered the legendary hermit Gyo-ei, an event which lead to the founding of the temple.
In addition to the veranda and for health reasons, Kiyomizu dera temple brings in visitors hoping for luck in love. The sub-temple Jishu-jinja (Jishu Shrine) has two love stones (Mekura-ishi; Blind Stones) placed roughly 20 meters apart. If you can manage to walk between with the stones, eyes closed, you will find love--or so the faithful believe. (Cheating however is allowed: pilgrims are often seen being led by their significant other.) Love charms can be bought at Jishu-jinja to help you in your search for true love as well as charms for safe driving, easy childbirth and longevity.
As well as being a World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu was recently submitted as a candidate as a New Seven Wonders of the World.
In early November the garden of the residence (Joju-in) of the abbot of the temple is opened to the public and contains a water basin stone given to Kiyomizu by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
After visiting the temple, wander around Sannenzaka, a small shopping street lined with traditional, wooden shops selling kiyomizu-yaki, a type of pottery linked to the area and yatsuhashi - a kind of Japanese confectionary made from rice flour that can be eaten raw or baked. You can follow this road as it winds its way down past Nene no Michi, Kodaiji to Gion - the traditional pleasure and geisha quarter of the city. On the way is Yasaka Gojonoto, a five-story pagoda. Just near the entance to Kiyomizudera are a number of souvenir shops enticing visitors in with free tea. They sell a variety of Kyoto arts and crafts as well as dried foods and tea.
10min walk from Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station
If you wish to stay in this area of Kyoto near Kiyomizudera Temple, there are a number of options. Nearest is the small 14-room Amenity Hotel at the foot of the slope leading up to the temple, the 20-room Gion Maifukukan, and the Japanese style Hotel Shuhokaku with futons and tatami floors and a communal Japanese bath.
Reviews by visitors
Kiyomizudera is one of the must visit place in Kyoto. Great architecture, beautiful scenery, and don't forget to try numerous snacks and Japanese traditional cakes along the way to get to the temple. ~Ida L
This is a very old temple and the actual construction (from 1633) is one of the largest wooden fit construction of the world, i.e., it doesn't have any nail at all. From there you have a great view of Kyoto and the construction itself is beautiful and full of history. ~marciofleury
We took a taxi from our hotel to the temple - about 1200 Yen from Kyoto Station. There were heaps of people, but after experiencing the busyness at the main shrine in Thailand, this was nothing and didn't seem crowded. People are very respectful in Japan and everyone remains calm. No pushing or shoving here. There were lots of school kids here, and they are all well behaved. We walked through the different temples up the hill and through the gardens. Came across the three stream waterfall where you can only drink from 2 of the streams. I must say this was one of the nicest temples we have visited in Japan. Highly recommend this temple. ~KatieCains
You need to visit this place at least once if you visit Kyoto. Grand architecture perched on the famous Higashiyama area of Kyoto. The walk from Kiyomizu-michi or Yasaka Shrine leading up to the temple is a treat in itself (read about it under Ninenzaka-Sannenzaka in TripAdvisor). There's also evening illumination in certain season that draws even higher crowd. ~pekopon
This temple is nice to visit, but more impressive is the walk to get there in the traditional Gion quarter of Kyoto where you can sill see men and women wearing the traditional costume. Can be very busy end May with all the school visits. ~Didier B
Kiyomizu Temple is a sovereign Buddhist temple located in the E. part of Kyoto. The architecture was first constructed to date back to almost 800 yrs ago. It is always crowded, especially during the Japanese holidays, and the holidays of the countries around Japan, such as mainland China, HK, Taiwan, or may Vietnam ... during your visit you may pay some attention on the structure of all buildings. I would say that it is a must go place in Kyoto for understanding Japanese history and culture.
If you take a taxi or bus, they will drop you a few hundred meters from the temple entrance. You will walk through a paved street with shops and restaurants on the both sides. I would suggest that you do not may any stops on your way up, because you will have time to shop around on your way back. Not like shopping in some other countries, you do not have to bargain with the shops. the prices have a little differences between shops if they sell the same goods.
Useful facts: ticket price for day time adult￥300, child ￥200.
The Kiyomizu-dera is a must do whilst in Kyoto. Just incredible architecture and engineering set on a beautiful hill side location. Lovely views of Kyoto city. A big walk up a steep street lined with lots of souvenir shops. ~coolum_65
Overcome two discomforts to benefit from both a magnificent view and magnificent temple structure. The first challenge is a long walk up the hill, Kiyomizu-michi street, with its’ many cafes, restaurants, and tourist gift shops. The second, is the volume of, both Japanese and foreign visitors. We visited during Golden Week, when it appeared that all of Japan was also visiting. However, despite causing slow progress up the hill, it did add to the atmosphere with many Japanese visitors dressed in their national dress. The temple complex itself nestles in wooded hills with a fine view out over Kyoto. ~dis6x
One of Kyoto’s main attraction, consist of many attractive timberwork buildings build in one large complex. Enjoy a nice view of Kyoto city from the Temple’s main hall uphill. After exploring this amazing Temple, walk down to Matsubara lane in front of the Temple’s red painted gate, here you can find a lot of stores selling Japanese rice cake called mochi, get into the store and you can taste the cake sample for free with a cup of Japanese matcha tea. The stores represent Japanese traditional architecture, make it also a great spot for photograph. A lot of visitors, both local and foreigner, make a huge crowd, this Temple is still a worth place to visit. ~Julius_
400 Yen admission fee. Major construction going on. Hordes of tourist everywhere. Not worth it. Possibly my worst experience in Kyoto.
Pictures on the internet during Autumn season is pretty but looking at the number of tourist in this area during low season definitely puts me off wanting to revisit this place even during Autumn.
The temple was so beautiful take my breath away when I first reach. However, it was crowded during sakura season. ~JingjingRed
The trek uphill is worth it because the temple and the location are beautiful.i imagine it would be more beautiful during cherry blossom season or during autumn. ~Josette P
Very impressive temple, picturestic and Majestic. I have enjoyed practicing the ritual and highly recommended attraction to visit while in Japan. ~trvljock
Many temples in Kyoto, this is a must visit, the view is great too. However it is has huge crowds of tourists. Do take note that there are some renovation works going on during this period. ~STS_1234
Thd only way to really appreciate the ambience of this place is to go first thing in the morning. It opens at 6am (yes the ticket booth is open then). I climbed the stairs up there the other morning and much to my delight i was in time to hear the chanting. Very special anc set the scene for my day. ~annieflorence2
We went on a Thursday and arrived at 10am. There were bus loads of school groups there in addition to the throngs getting down from tourist buses. The grounds are quite big but getting around the main temple area was like being in a mosh pit. Once past that gauntlet, you will have space to catch your breath and take in the amazing view from the balcony.
There are areas where you can offer prayers, light incense, and hang picture votives with your prayers and wishes for a nominal fee. There is also a place where you can partake of water from three streams that originate from the Otowa waterfall-visitors use long poles with metal cups at the end to catch the water falling from these streams. Each stream promises a different benefit- long life, love life, school life. For sanitary purposes, we poured some of the water into our palms and drank from there.
It's worth a visit to admire the architectural marvel of the grand stage, the view from the balcony, and the intricacy of the workmanship on the temple ceilings.
After passing upward through a crowded shopping lane the main bright orange/red painted gate is quite impressive and imposing. Continuing the circuit around and into the temple and beyond is very interesting with many beautiful vistas across the surrounding forest. The timber superstructure of the main temple seen from below is a marvel of workmanship. Well worth spending an hour or two here. ~grahamc39
We enjoyed a leisurely walk through the Hagashiyama district with the older style buildings on the way to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. However as we got fairly close it became very busy as you started to ascend the steep streets. This is fine in a way as it lends a very bustling aura to the shops along the way.
However when you get to the temple it was just huge crowds of tourists and locals - and worse still the temple is being renovated in many areas.
This certainly is not a tranquil place if that is what you are seeking from a temple - better off trying the nearby Shorenin temple.
A bit of a disclaimer - I'm hardly a temple person. When I do visit temple, I'm often more attracted to their natural beauty, landscape and gardens. I am rarely in awe of the many temples I saw in Kyoto and unfortunately, this to me was just another one of the temples.
It was fairly easy to get to (we took a bus and buses were easy to maneuver in Kyoto). There was a short 10-min walk uphill and on our way back there was a busy street selling typical tourists items and foods.
One thing I would say I missed was the Tainai-Meguri. I did not know about it until after the fact. for 100-yen, I think I would very much try it. Otherwise, it's just one of the many temples in Kyoto (albeit the most famous).
You can see more Kyoto travel guide at here.