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.

DSC_0590

This is the entrance to the Kiyomizodera temple complex. The main buildings are about 400 years old, but this gate is even older.

DSC_0505

I was told these little statues are considered guardians of children. I never did get an explanation for all the red bibs.

DSC_0513

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.

DSC_0525

If you look closer, you can see the intricate decorations.

DSC_0526

The faces on the roofs of the pagoda reminded me of gargoyles on European cathedrals.

DSC_0529

 

DSC_0530

One of the the smaller halls next to the pagoda.

DSC_0549

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.

DSC_0552

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.

DSC_0557

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.

DSC_0561

People in search of love can leave their wishes here.

DSC_0555

And those whose prayers were answered can post their thanks here.

DSC_0582

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.

DSC_0533

The water trough here is for washing your hands before entering the temple.

DSC_0537

The main building was closed for renovations when we visited, but we could still visit one of the historic verandas, which have amazing views.

DSC_0572

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”.

DSC_0566

Anyway, here’s the view from the temple veranda.

DSC_0570

And this is us. More posts on Kyoto to come.

32 Comments on “Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera Temple

  1. You really want to make me go to Japan. I was intrigued by the lady in the kimono clutching her handbag. Do you see many peple dressed like that?

    • She’s clutching a fan, though it does sort of look like a handbag. You do see people dressed up in traditional garb around major tourist attractions. It’s considered an experience, like dressing up like a cowboy in the American West. You have to rent the kimonos, etc., and they’re not cheap.

  2. We will also go to Kyoto. I’m curious what expects me. How many days have you stayed in Kyoto and Kanazawa, Jason?

  3. This is a beautiful temple complex. I wonder what the significance of the rope over the gate and then they showed a rope on the drawing of the love rock. Hmmmm What a beautiful sight looking out over the country side to the mountains from the temple. Just think of how magnificent it was before the city took most of the view. I am always struck by all of the bright colors they use on temples, kimonos etc when you see them now mostly dressed in black and the normal every day structures are so colorless.

  4. What a temple! I love the idea of guardian of children. Very nice picture of you and Judy.

  5. At last, I have found your blog. I was looking for it in my older comments but still could not find it. It’s lovely to see you and, I am guessing, your wife in the last pic.

    All the pictures are wonderful. That orange is really vibrant. Do you know in my language (Bengali), Jishu means “Jesus” (Father Jesus Christ). And, there it means “love”?

  6. Gosh, I loved all that orange! How interesting it is, loved the carvings too. I was laughing re the odds for jumping, struth!xxx

  7. I have always had a feeling I would prefer Kyoto to Tokyo, and your post confirms this. It is always interesting to see the traditions of other cultures, and how very well they look after their temples. I bet they repaint those lovely orange parts of the temple frequently. Nice happy photo of you and Judy, it is always a bonus when someone can take a photo of you both while you are travelling.

  8. More gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing your trip – the details on the orange pagoda are really stunning!
    There’s a sad tale to the little red bibs on the little statues, which are called Ojizo-Sama, and are said to be protecting children: apparently grieving parents put their babies’ bibs on these to protect their child in the other world. Other parents also sometimes leave their children’s toys etc, to protect them from illness.
    I’ve seen them on Kitsune (the fox spirit) because he is a messenger and does a lot of running around, so the traditional red tied around his neck is to make sure he doesn’t bring any illness with him. I think that’s a very simplified version, I suspect there was more to it.

  9. I love the decorations on the pagoda. So striking! What a lovely place to visit with so much history. I must say, that is quite the unusual tradition of jumping off such a high place with those odds! And those odds don’t include the number of people that end up with broken legs or spinal damage…

  10. This is a lovely post Jason! Your recent trips to Japan have encouraged me to fetch my photo albums out of the attic and put them within reach. 🙂 Your photos of Kiyomizudera are fabulous. It is one of my favourites, and I was lucky enough to see it on a snowy winter’s day, in cherry blossom season and in early summer. Nice picture of you both with the great background. 🙂

    • Glad you like the photos, but the credit goes to Judy, of course. It would be so wonderful to see this and other places in Japan during the other seasons, as you have done.

  11. Beautiful photo of the two of you..now face to name and blog. I particularly liked the temple “gargoyle” with the cannon-he had a sly face about him. Overall a great tour of the temple, thanks for the insight and tour.

  12. Hello Jason, the roof structure, joinery and decoration are simply incredible. I’m looking forward to reading and seeing more from your trip to Japan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: