Destination List > Kiyomizu-dera
Photo by Domenico Convertini
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.