Destination List > Kiyomizu-dera


Photo by Domenico Convertini

The history...

Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple that is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities).

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. By 778, it was owned by the Buddhist Kita-Hosso sect under Enchin Shonin. He was a priest from Nara (capital of Japan from 710 to 784), who received a vision to construct the temple next to the Otowa spring.

In 798, the shogun Sakanoue Tamuramaro, improved the site by including a large hall that was reassembled from the palace of Emperor Kammu (r. 781–806). The emperor left Nara due to the strong influence that the Buddhist monasteries had on the government there. During this period there was a strong rivalry between the Kofuku-ji and the Kiyomizu-dera temples and both had strong influences around the region.

The temple's present buildings were constructed in 1633. They were ordered to be built by Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the "Kitahossō" sect.

The temple complex includes several shrines. Among them is the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches". Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of "love stones" placed 10 meters (30 feet) apart. Visitors can try to walk between them with their eyes closed. If they are successful in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed then it is said that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.

Source: Wikipedia

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Enjoy a sip of water from the Otowa Waterfall.


Spot people in the Jishu-jinja shrine walking with their eyes closed navigating between 2 stones. If they can find their way then it is believed they will find true love.


Take a picture of Kyoto skyline at the entrance gate.


Inspect the craftsmanship of the structures that were built without nails.


Find the small shrines of the Buddhist deity Jizo. These statues are dress in bibs by parents who have lost a child.


Enjoy a walk through the Shosei-en Garden. Best seen during the fall or spring, these beautiful gardens are not to be missed.


Explore Sanjusangen-do to see the longest temple hall in Japan.

Did you know?



Enchin Shonin, a priest from Nara, received a vision which he acted upon and constructed the temple near the Otowa spring.



Construction of the temple was completed in 1633. The craftsmanship was so perfect that no nails were needed.



In 1629, a fire destroyed the ancient wooden temples and the main hall.

Kyoto, journey on...

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