Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera Temple
So after Kanazawa, we took the train to Kyoto. Remember, this was in September of last year.
Before it was Tokyo, Kyoto was Japan’s capital for about 800 years. Kyoto is to Tokyo sort of the way Boston is to Los Angeles. Kyoto is smaller, quieter, more refined – and with a lot more history.
Speaking of which, there are a lot of historic Buddhist temples in Kyoto, altogether 1,600 temples and shrines. Kiyomizudera is one of those temples, and one that’s a lot of fun to visit.
This is the entrance to the Kiyomizodera temple complex. The main buildings are about 400 years old, but this gate is even older.
I was told these little statues are considered guardians of children. I never did get an explanation for all the red bibs.
There’s a three-story pagoda on the grounds of Kiyomizudera. It’s painted a bright, startling orange. I thought it was the most cheerful-looking pagoda we saw.
If you look closer, you can see the intricate decorations.
The faces on the roofs of the pagoda reminded me of gargoyles on European cathedrals.
One of the the smaller halls next to the pagoda.
The Jishu Shrine is also part of the temple complex. This is a popular spot, as it is dedicated to the god of love and suitable marriages.
There are two stones here set 60 feet apart. If you can walk from one to the other with your eyes closed, you will be lucky in love.
All kinds of trinkets are for sale here, including fortunes written on paper. We were told that if you buy one fortune and don’t like it, you’re not stuck with it. You can just buy another. I like this approach.
People in search of love can leave their wishes here.
And those whose prayers were answered can post their thanks here.
Moving on. The Otowa waterfall is at the base of the main temple. The temple is named for the waterfall – Kiyomizu means clear water. The water is thought to bestow good luck.
The water trough here is for washing your hands before entering the temple.
The main building was closed for renovations when we visited, but we could still visit one of the historic verandas, which have amazing views.
There was a tradition of people jumping off one of these verandas. If the jumper survives the 40 foot drop, their wish is granted. Official records were kept of the several hundred who jumped. About 85% lived, which is decent odds.
Sadly for compulsive risk-takers, the practice is now prohibited. However, the Japanese equivalent for the expression “taking the plunge” is “jumping off Kiyomizu”.
Anyway, here’s the view from the temple veranda.
And this is us. More posts on Kyoto to come.