Kiyomizu dera – Kyoto’s Must See Location

One of Kyoto’s many UNESCO world heritage sites, Kiyomizu-dera rose to world prominence when it became one of the 20 finalists for the new seven wonders of the world. Although it was not ultimately chosen, the temple has remained one of Kyoto’s must see locations, attracting massive crowds even during off peak periods. So, with so much fanfare, is Kiyomizu-dera truly worth your time considering it will definitely be crowded whenever you plan to visit?

Kiyomizu-dera is located on top of a hill, with rows of shops selling traditional crafts and food along the way up. When my friends and I visited, we grabbed snacks from these shops and ate as we made our way up. You can find food of fairly reasonable price here! I settled for some 500 yen yakisoba.

Kiyomizu-dera is primarily known for two things – being the fresh water temple and its magnificent view of the city. Being surrounded my mountains is another big bonus, which gives pretty sights along the way.

For some reason when I visited some of the maple trees there had already withered, although they had not everywhere else. This was still early December.

Although this was a little disappointing, the mountain still boasts amazing greenery and there were still patches where the maple trees were alive. 

There were plenty of great spots to take in the natural surroundings and take photos. The path down also had some tea houses surrounding the maple trees, where you can rest your tired feet while enjoying the view.

Along the way you can get more shots of the temple. The massive temple was, incredibly, built without a single nail. 

Next was a structure that had 3 streams of water flowing down – representing money, love and academics. You have to chose one to drink out of to receive good fortune in that area, but you must not drink from more than one stream as it will cancel out the effects! You had to chose one and stick with it (much like anything else in life). There was a really long queue, but I’ll take whatever luck I can get, ya know? 

So, all in all, is Kiyomizu dera worth your time despite the crowds? In reality, the historic value of the temple alone makes it worth it. The temple is also surrounded by natural beauty and the fresh water is a must try. The areas surrounding the tea houses were really beautiful as well.

But to be completely honest, I wasn’t too impressed with the view of the city (but this is likely due to the weather), and definitely was a little disappointed by the withered trees. It also was the most crowded of all the touristy places I went to.

It does offer a sort of all-in-one experience (traditional food, crafts, the view, buddhist temple, Tea houses, mountain landscape), and I believe that this is why the temple has endured the test of time.


Note: the temple’s main hall is undergoing restoration until March 2020 and is covered in scaffolding. The main hall will remain open to visitors during this period.

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