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Kiyomizudera is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Monument
I know some people think that once you have seen a temple, you have seen them all. I am not one of those people, obviously. I visited every temple I could while in Japan with no regrets. Not only the temples are rich in culture, they are aesthetically pleasing and one of the cheapest activities-most cost less than $5 per person. Kiyomizudera delivered on all those things and more.
Kiyomizudera is worth the trip for various reasons
Photography: the temple sits on the side of the Otawa Mountain overlooking Kyoto and it’s pretty spectacular around sunset (closing time). If you are lucky enough to visit during one of the 5 times a year the temple opens at night, you can get one of those one-of-a-kind shots from the observation deck and see the temple lit up by candlelight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there during one of those nights, but a pretty sunset was enough. One tip here, stick around until closing time and after it. The temple empties out and lights up and you can get shots without anyone in it.
Architecture: if you are interested in how things are built, this place is a marvel of construction. The tall beams and the platform were constructed without nails. I am always amazed by what men can build!
Nature: Kyoto is one of the busiest cities in Japan. In fact, during the time I visited, it felt overcrowded. After many bus and train rides where I was literally sandwiched by people, I needed a break from it all where I could enjoy some silence. Kiyomizudera provided just that with trails in which to get some air. The temple also has a garden that can be used for meditation.
Shops: the walk up to the temple is lined with small shops and restaurants that are certain to make you want to stop and browse. Allow for extra time if you like to shop.
The water: the temple is literally named “Temple of Clear Waters” for the Otawa waterfall that provides water to the temple dating back to 778. The fountains at the exit of the temple are said to have magical powers.
If you are visiting Kyoto, make sure to stop by Kiyomizudera and if you already visited it, please share your experience in the comments below.
For more information to plan your visit, here is the temple’s website.