Are you currently planning a stay in, or a visit to, the ancient and spectacular Japanese capitol known as Kyoto? Are you truly fascinated by traditional Japanese culture and its beautiful architectural masterpieces? Do you love the romantic atmosphere of ancient wooden temples set in gorgeous natural environments? If so, then you will likely want to make sure you learn more about and also hopefully visit the ancient temple complex known as Kiyomizu in the city of Kyoto!
This magnificent temple of Kiyomizu was originally constructed in 798, during the Heian period, but its present buildings currently date back to 1633 when a restoration of the temple complex was ordered and performed. One amazing thing about Kiyomizu, that you will likely want to note when you visit, is that there is supposedly not a single nail used in the entire structure. One more really amazing aspect of the temple is how wonderfully integrated it is with its natural surroundings. The name “Kiyomizu” actually means “Pure Water”. It is a Buddhist temple complex and is so harmonious with its setting that it truly exemplifies the ancient fusion of Buddhism and love of nature that was likely even more prominent in temples in Japan prior to the 20th century. An attempt had been made, around the turn of the 20th century, by the imperial family to claim the country’s nature based folk animism as a singular “Shinto” and they tried to separate it from Buddhism. Thankfully Kiyomizu and many other temples were still strong enough to resist the attempt and maintained their fusion of this beautiful and natural Buddhist way. The temple had been affiliated with the Hosso sect of Buddhism since the time before Kyoto was the capitol of Japan. Recently though, in 1965, the temple reportedly changed its affiliation to the Kita-Hosso sect of Buddhism.
The spring and autumn are very popular times to visit Kiyomizu, as is the Japanese New Year celebration. Throngs of visitors arrive to view the beautiful and romantic cherry blossoms of spring, known as Sakura, from the large veranda surrounding the main hall. In autumn there is another gorgeous natural event that takes place as the Japanese maple trees change into a wonderful landscape of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds known as Momiji. In such beautiful natural landscapes, the bare wood color of the main hall is a harmonious aesthetic to enjoy. Another wonderful enhancement to experience is the nighttime event during these occasions called “Light Up”. This is when the temples and their Sakura or Momiji surroundings are actually lighted in rather pleasing ways during the evenings for visitors to enjoy. The scenery is often rather magical and romantic during these wonderful nights.
The New Year is a major celebration in Japan and actually coincides with the western New Year. The major difference is that the New Year celebration in Japan lasts much longer. Crowds will certainly flock to Kiyomizu for the midnight countdown on December 31st and sunrise the next morning, though more crowds will also flock there for the next week or so. It is likely a really good time to visit if you want to know more about Japanese culture.
Enjoy the wonderful temple of Kiyomizu and feel free to drink the water from its natural spring. It is said to bring health, wisdom, and longevity.