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A temple with a love shrine in Kyoto


(this map from http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp)

Kiyomizu-dera which literally means ‘Pure Water Temple’ is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. The temple is located half way up Otowa Mountain and people come from all over Japan and elsewhere to visit the waterfall and drink the sacred water from a ladle.


The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools of Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965 (source http://www.japan-guide.com).



I visited this temple and surrounding grounds during my visit to Kyoto in 2012.  The temple is renowned for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, thirteen meters above the hillside below.  It gets incredibly busy on this wooden stage; I expected this really, as it’s what the temple is known for – felt a bit like everywhere in China.

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The stage affords a lovely view of the cherry and maple trees below, as well as the city of Kyoto in the distance.

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The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails and houses the temple’s primary object of worship, a small statue comprising eleven faces and a thousand arms.  This statue is said to have the power to answer prayers.


(photograph from www.kiyomizudera.or.jp)

Behind the temple’s main hall stands the Jishu Shrine which is dedicated to the god or goddess of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed eighteen meters apart. It is said that if you are successful in finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed you will find love.


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(three photographs from www.kyojapan.com)

One interesting point I learnt whilst at the shrine was that you can have someone guide you from one stone to the other, but that is interpreted to mean that an intermediary will be needed in your love life as well.  Amusing!!

There are lovely grounds surrounding the temple and beautiful small ponds and lakes; all worth seeing when you are strolling around.  Another wonderful site in gorgeous Kyoto.

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