Oct. 29, 2015 UPDATE
Kiyomizu-dera Temple and its Surroundings
Part 1

How to Enjoy the Temple

Kyoto is said to be home to over 2,000 temples and shrines. However, among these, the most popular tourist spot is one of the World Heritage Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera. The path to the temple gate is long with many very steep slopes (with crowds being the largest during the day). However, once you get there -or even if you are only half way there- you are sure to be welcomed by a number of beautiful views.
Kiyomizu-dera stands on the hillside of Otowa Mountain. The pure water (Kiyomizu in Japanese) that gushes from inside the mountain is the origin of the name of this beautiful temple.
The site has more than 10 halls of various sizes, including a shrine for the god of marriage, and a little tea house for people to take a break from their walks. The area around Kiyomizu-dera is simply vast, and some places feature gravel paths that may be slightly difficult to walk on. If you come to visit, we would definitely recommend wearing comfortable shoes.
There is a famous Japanese ancient saying: "To jump down as if from the Kiyomizu platform" (meaning in English "to jump into the deep end" or "to take the plunge"). It is used as a metaphor for moments when you take a brave decision to do something. This saying originates from an ancient superstition that says that if you were to jump from the platform, which is 14 meters above ground, and were to survive, then all your wishes would come true. Although of course, jumping from the platform like this is nowadays strictly prohibited.
Visitors can delight their eyes and souls by standing on the platform and enjoying views of beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom in the spring, and stunning valleys full of maple trees bathed in red and yellow colors in the fall. During the high season, evening visits are also allowed, so this would be the perfect chance to enjoy seeing this beautiful temple lit up majestically at night.
Here we will introduce three tips for enjoying this unique spot in Kyoto even more.
1Perfect Photos!
From the moment you pass through Niou-Mon gate, the main gate at Kiyomizu-dera, you are sure to see countless of perfect views to snap with your camera. Please take care not to trip up and fall over as you concentrate so hard on taking pictures!

As you walk on from Niou-Mon gate and go by the beautiful and stunning triple scarlet tower, you will be met by the much-awaited main hall of Kiyomizu-dera.
If you stand on the platform at the point where it sticks out the most, through the mountains you will be able to see views of the town areas in Kyoto.
Once you have visited the main hall which is located on the inside of the platform, you can wander around and take as many photos as you like.
The platform can be extremely crowded during the day, particularly on bright sunny days, so please make sure not to end up pushing each other and take care so your body does not stick out too much over the railings...
A little after you leave the main hall, you will reach some perfect spots from where you can take pictures of the platform from the front.
One such a spot is the path in front of the Amida-dou Hall, located diagonally from the platform on the east side.
The other spot is Koyasu-no-tou tower, located five minutes' walk from the first spot, offering direct views of the platform from the front.
As long as you are on one of these two spots, you are guaranteed to be able to take the perfect snap. We shall pray for you to have really great weather!
The splendid wooden framework that can be seen above the Kiyomizu platform has actually been constructed using a very special technique that does not use a single nail.
There are places directly below the platform from where you can take your time to gaze up to this beautiful structure -make sure to find them and enjoy the views to your heart's content!- Watching the visitors on the platform and wondering whether they are likely to fall off at any moment could also be a thrilling experience!
2Drink the Water for Good Luck
The site of Kiyomizu-dera is vast. From the many must-see spots, the most popular among worshippers is Otowa-no-taki (The Falls of Otowa).
From its location you can see the Kiyomizu platform right above you. It features three narrow waterfalls flowing down from a small water pipe.
Making sure not to fall down from the railings, use the ladle with the one-meter long handle to scoop some water up, and then drink it. (As the water comes from a mountain well, it has few impurities and tastes delicious!)
This waterfall, which has continued to flow uninterrupted for over 1,200 years, is said to provide special benefits such as longevity, good luck in love, and academic progress.
Although the waterfall is divided into three, the effect is the same regardless of which one you drink from. Take a little sip in the firm belief that you will receive the benefit that you wish to gain the most. Beware though, some say that if you drink any more than that, the effects can actually decrease more and more.
3Will you be Reborn at the Tainai-Meguri?
Just before you go into the main hall, there is a popular Buddhist attraction that always draws large crowds. At Tainai-meguri (a Tour of the Womb), you can experience an unusual type of shrine visit that takes approximately five minutes and costs a mere ¥100.
You can go underground below the hall into the womb of the Bosatsu (a female Bodhisattva with the ability to grant wishes). Once inside you can offer a deep and meaningful prayer, and when you come out above ground and see sunlight again, you will feel as if you had been reborn. It is a truly fascinating place.
When you hand over your payment before the tour, you can easily ask for some explanation in English. When you are given a bag to put your shoes in after you have taken them off, that is when the tour starts. When you step underground below the hall, you are sure to be amazed at how dark it is. In this complete darkness -so dark that no matter how much you open your eyes, you cannot perceive any light- all you can use to guide you is a handrail (this is actually a large Buddhist rosary) and the sense of the person walking in front of you.
If you suffer from a severe fear of the dark, there is no need to worry; you can simply conclude your visit by throwing some money and putting your hands together in prayer.
Inside this temple there are still many more popular spots to visit.
We shall not list them here as they are very well featured in many different types of media; however, we highly recommend visiting Jishu-jinja Shrine to those people wanting to make a wish for marriage or try a bit of love fortune-telling.

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