Kiyomizu-dera is a renowned Buddhist temple in Japan. It was founded in 778 and was officially acknowledged as a Buddhist temple by the emperor in 810.
The temple was burnt down nine times in its 1200 years of history but was reconstructed every time. It used to belong to the Hosso sect, but it went independent in 1965 and became the head temple of the Kita-Hosso sect.
Kiyomizu-dera is famed for its iconic Hondo (the main hall), which is situated on the hillside of Mount Otowa and has a large balcony supported by many tall pillars. Notably, this edifice doesn’t use a single nail.
From the stage, it offers breathtaking views of the city of Kyoto, and when foliage turn red in fall, the temple precincts are lit up at night, making it even more beautiful. Regarding this stage, there’s even a saying “to jump off the stage of Kiyomizu,” which is used when you make a bold decision to venture to do something.
In the Edo period, many people jumped off this veranda to make worldly wishes, and even if they died from it, it was believed that they were able to go to heaven.
There are records of 234 people jumping off in 148 years in the Edo period, and 85% of them survived. Hondo is designated as a National Treasure and 14 other structures are listed as Important Cultural Properties, most of which were constructed in the 1630s. Kiyomizu-dera is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.”
Where to eat around Kiyomizu-dera
There are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops along the main approach to the temple. Kyoto has traditionally been famous for tsukemono (pickles), and many visitors buy some for gifts, but they probably don’t have a chance to eat many kinds of them.
But Akoyachaya, a restaurant which is a 6-min walk from Kiyomizu-dera, offers tsukemono buffet.
Kyoto’s tsukemono is shortly prepared and not that salty, so you can eat a lot of them with ordinary steamed rice or ochazuke (cooked rice with hot water or tea poured over it). For desert, monaka (azuki bean jam sandwiched by wafers) are served.
Where to stay around Kiyomizu-dera
Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei
Mitsui Garden Hotels is a large hotel chain, and its Shinmachi Bettei is located in the middle of Kyoto City, close to Hankyu Line Shijo-Karasuma Station.
Though its building is pretty new, it is in modern-Japanese-style, reminding you that you are staying in the ancient city of Kyoto. There’s also a spacious communal bath. Room rates are relatively reasonable.
Machiya Residence Inn Kyoto
Machiya Residence Inn Kyoto manages dozens of traditional but renovated machiya-style townhouses for accommodations across the city.
You rent a whole house for your group, which enables you to take a glimpse of what it’s like to live as locals in Kyoto. You receive the key at its office situated in the JR Kyoto Station building.