Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Japan
Built in the 8th century, when Kyoto was then capital city of Japan, the ancient temple of Kiyomizu-dera is one of the city’s finest shrines. This is no small feat given the thousands of temples which adorn the hillsides, but it really does stand out above the rest. The temple has an ornate wooden veranda, called the Kiyomizu Stage, which juts out from the main hall and provides an impeccable view of Kyoto below, as well as the numerous cherry and maple trees which envelop the site. The temple has fifteen splendidly painted halls and pagodas which stand in the verdant and tranquil forest surroundings. The temples name derives from the Japanese for ‘clear water’, which refers to the Otowa Waterfall. This picturesque waterfall is split into three separate streams, all deemed to give different benefits; namely longevity, scholastic success and fortunate in your love life. The water is reached with long poles, but beware as drinking from all three streams is considered greedy! There are various other ancient rituals which make the temple one of the most interesting and enjoyable to visit in the country.
Where is it?
The temple is situated halfway up Otowa Mountain, in the forests to the east of Kyoto City. Kyoto itself is in the centre of Japan, north of Osaka.
What is it?
The celebrated temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest school’s within Japanese Buddhism. The wondrous shrine became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is one of Japan’s best loved attractions.
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit is during the autumn due to the spectacular foliage season. The leaves in the Kyoto area generally begin to change colour towards the end of October through to November, which makes the temple an even more splendid vision.
Jishu-jinja, a shrine found above the main hall, is definitely a talking point. Visitors can ensure they remain forever successful in love, as long as they walk roughly 18 metres between a pair of stones without missing the opposite stone. However, this must be achieved with eyes closed! If missed it is said your desire for love won't be fulfilled.