Autumn Illumination at Kiyomizudera Temple 音羽山清水寺, Kyoto
Seeing the autumn illumination lights display at Kiyomizudera Temple wasn’t in my plans, but I had this feeling I would be reaching the temple at night. My itinerary was so jampacked with places to see in Kyoto that I managed to sneak a visit to Kiyomizudera Temple before the day ends. During Autumn, Spring and Obon, the Kiyomizudera Temple opens its doors until 9:00pm to showcase its illumination.
Forgive the photos, but it was definitely hard to capture the illumination with just an iPhone 6 camera. A couple of edits did the trick, but some photos didn’t give any justice to the majestic illumination that gave autumn a whole different meaning. You have to be there to experience it.
If you are in Kyoto during spring or autumn, try to visit the Kiyomizudera Temple at night. The crowds are thicker, and people push around trying to get the best shot of Kiyomizudera. At thirteen meters high, the famous Kiyomizudera Temple is said to fulfill anyone’s wishes who survives the long jump from the main Kiyomizu stage ~ but the practice is no longer allowed obviously due to safety reasons.
Literally meaning “Pure Water Temple”, this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site sits on top of Otowa mountain, boasting clear waters overflowing from the Otowa Waterfall. Visitors can choose to drink from one of the waterfalls of longevity, love or success, but to drink all three is considered greed.
Behind the main hall, hopeful romantics can visit the Jishu shrine, which is said to fulfill one’s wishes of finding their one true love by walking on stones with eyes closed.
As for me, I enjoyed the sights and paying respect to the eleven-faced, thousand armed Kannon Bodhisattva, who is the main deity of Kiyomizudera. Several halls are also being renovated to restore its glory, especially since it has been burned in history during the Tokugawa Shogun era. Within the next decade, the main stage will also be renovated and it’s best to grab the opportunity of visiting Kiyomizudera Temple before the renovation begins.
I couldn’t pass the opportunity of eating the famous Kitsune Udon noodles to warm my tummy after a long day in Kyoto. The fried beancurd was absolutely delicious ~ a good treat especially in a vegetarian city.
On the way down Kiyomizudera Temple, you’ll surely pass by a long lane of shops called Ninenzaka/Sannenzaka. Here you must buy the famous Yatsumishi treats, especially their cream puff. Buy some boxes of omiyage that can only be uniquely found in Kyoto.
Keep an eye on where you’re going though. Legend says if one stumbles on his way down the steep slopes of Ninenzaka (“Two Years”) or Sannenzaka (“Three Years”), he will face an early death within two or three years.
Definitely creepy and exciting, don’t you think?
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Navigation and Map: How to Get to Kiyomizudera Temple
Location: 294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0862, Japan
Admission Fee: 500 yen
To get to Kiyomizudera, take the Route 100 bus towards Kiyomizudera Gion/Ginkakuji and walk the Ninenzaka/Sannenzaka path towards the temple for 10 minutes. Alternatively you can take the Route 206 bus bound for Higashima-dori Kitaoji bus and get off at Gojozaka stop.
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