Tokyo Series Day 2: Kiyomizudera

Editor’s note: I’ve had the great opportunity to visit Japan twice in the last five years, first in 2016 and again in 2018 and with the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo I wanted to revisit those trips and share some of the pictures that I may or may not have already.

Kiyomizudera, which means pure water temple, was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. The three channels of the fall are said to give those who drink from them good health, success in studies and a fortunate love life, but drinking from all three is considered greedy.

The Buddhist temple is also the site of the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to the god of love. Successful blindfold navigation between the two rocks is said to bring good luck in finding love. A person who is guided between the stones is believed to still be able to find love but help will be needed.

The current temple structure was completed in 1633 and was built without a single nail. It’s design was copied by other temples seen throughout Japan. It was partially covered in scaffolding when I visited in 2018 for restoration work preparing for the Olympics.

Kiyomizu is well known for its expansive main hall and stage which offers picturesque views of Kyoto. The phrase “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” refers to the Edo Period (1607-1867) tradition for visitors to leap from the stage to the hilltop 43 feet below, surviving meant their wish would come true. During this time 234 people jumped, the majority survived. The practice was banned in 1872.

Kiyomizu became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and is considered one of the most celebrated temples in Japan.

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