I’ve lived in Kyoto for almost two years now, and my apartment is in a great location. I can walk to the bars and restaurants of Kawaramachi easily, and I pass through the geisha district to do so; I’m well-linked with railways around the city; and I’m a stones throw from one of the biggest tourist pulls in Kansai – Kiyomizu Temple. Despite being so close, I only visited for the first time today – and it was well-worth the hype.
Just a 10 minute walk from my apartment, along traditional Japanese streets lined with craft stores and ice cream vendors is the beautiful Kiyomizu-dera. It stands tall and proud on the mountains of Kyoto, a red delight amongst the greenery of the forest. It was a swelteringly hot day in May, and along with my “Once a day” suncream, I journeyed off to see this tourist hotspot. I was surprised just how busy it was, on a Monday, during term time, but the place was crawling with visitors. So, be warned!
I spent a lot of time around the entrance gates and pagodas taking in the bright colours of the structures and snapping away as many pictures as possible. And even with all these other people here, I managed to set up a few cheeky self-timed shots of myself enjoying the sights!
After walking around the entrance area for a while, I headed over to the ticket desk so I could enter the main hall. Tickets are pretty cheap; only 400 yen per person (around $4, £2.50) and grant you access to on of the best viewing platforms to enjoy Kyoto’s tree covered mountains. The platform gets pretty busy so be prepared to wait around to grab a good spot along the edge for your photos. The platform juts out from the main building of the temple, which is the home to a large statue of the deity Kanon, to which the temple is dedicated. This can be a great spot to relax and cool off during the summer, as there is plenty of space to sit inside the main building while enjoyed the majestic views in front of you.
Below the platform, you can find a mystic waterfall purported to give you various good fortunes. There are three streams of water that flow from this fall; one will bring you academic success, one brings you luck in love, and one brings you good health. In order to reap the benefits, you must extend a long metal pole with a cup attached into the streams, and then wash your hands and mouth with the water. Be sure not to try and drink from all three though, as this is seen as being greedy! The line for this was really long, and the sun was beating down pretty hard, so I gave this a miss this time.
To wrap up my visit, I stopped at one of the many little cafe’s surrounding the temple to cool off with a nice bottle of beer. These would be excellent locations to grab a helping of Kakigori, or shaved ice- Japan’s staple summertime snack. Then, as I wandered down the beautiful streets surrounding the temple, I decided to stop for a quick ice cream! I picked up a refreshing Matcha Soft Ice Cream from one of the (many) stalls, and hid in the shade of a shop while I enjoyed it.
The temple also holds evening light ups during cherry blossom season, and in autumn when the leaves change. These get extremely busy, but for good reason. The views are amazing. So if you can handle the crowds, I definitely recommend a visit during these times.
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