294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan
GPS: 34.995637634298, 135.78635122626
Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist place of pilgrimage with several sacred shrines. It is located on the hills of Kyoto, east of the Japanese city. This complex of temples was erected at the end of the 8th century by the shōgun (general) Sakanoue no Tamuramaro under the aegis of Kanmu (or Kammu), 50th emperor of Japan. His accession to the throne marked the transition from the Nara period (marked by the emergence of Buddhism from China) to the Heian period (corresponding to the golden age of imperial Japan). During his reign, the Crown Prince moved the country’s capital twice and finally established his court in Heian-kyō, in what is now downtown Kyoto.
Devastated by several fires, Kiyomizu-dera was rebuilt identically by the third shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty (Tokugawa Iemitsu) in 1633 during the Edo period. It is associated with the Hossō school, one of the oldest teaching places of Japanese Buddhism. This temple is considered a national treasure and remains one of the most valuable assets in Japan. It also includes a Shinto shrine, Jishu-Jinja, serving as a place of worship for a mixture of ancient religious and animist beliefs in the history of Japan. Kiyomizu-dera occupies a vast spiritual space meaning “Temple of Pure Water” in reference to the sacred waters of the narrow Otowa-no-taki waterfall, located below the main hall.
Loaded with history and myths, the main pavilion (Hondō) of Kiyomizu-dera includes a vast veranda supported by a hundred massive wooden pillars assembled without the aid of a single nail. This traditional construction method, called Kakezukuri, is particularly used on steep slopes or rocky hills. It is intended to be in perfect symbiosis with its natural environment. The main hall of Kiyomizu-dera is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, the bodhisattva Kannon (also known as Guanyin). It conceals a statue with 11 heads and 1,000 arms which is only unveiled to the public every 33 years (the last performance took place in 2010). In addition to being able to visit the site at night, two major seasonal events contribute to the beautification of Kiyomizu-dera every year. The sakura (cherry blossom) in the spring and the momiji (Japanese maple tree) in the autumn are among the most eagerly awaited moments by the inhabitants of Kyoto who flock in their thousands to attend the show.