Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Mighty skill of kakezukuri-method, an architecture without using any nails

Text: Kaniwa Hioki / Photo: Koji Yamazaki


Kiyomizu-dera Temple was built in 778 at the end of Nara period. Known as Kannon Reijo, meaning the holy place of deity of great mercy and compassion, many people came to pray for health, wealth and luck, from the novels to samurai, and commoners.

The temple's domain spreads out 130 thousand square meter on the mountain of Otowayama, in the Higashiyama district. Having 30 statues designated as national important property, it became one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto in 1994. It attracts many visitors until today. 

Visitor will see a bright Niomon gate after climbing the Kiyomizu-zaka street. Going into the temple's premise, one can enjoy numbers of important heritages such as the triple tower, kyodo (sutra hall) and Kaizando Hall. After all that, the most famous 'Kiyomizu-dera no butai' (Kiyomizu stage) will appear.

You must not miss observing the architecture of this temple. The stage is build on a steep slope of the mountain without using any needle. This so called kakezukuri-method had settled the stage for over 1200 years. A Japanese zelkova plate is braided into the pole, with additional shim to tighten the space. By not using any metal parts, it is rust-free and more tolerant to earthquakes.  

The stage is 184 square meter, with more than 400 plates of 10 cm thick cypress boards. This floor is renewed about every 20 years. The back is made a bit higher than the front so that the rainwater will not make any paddles on the stage. 

A common offerings to temples are rice, soy sauce and crafts, but here it is performance of music, dance, theater, etc. since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Today, many such performances are being held here.

It is a beautiful temple in the middle of great nature, and are opened from early morning. I definitely recommend going in the quiet morning.


ADDRESS: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (map)
PHONE: +81(0)75-551-1234
HOURS: 6:00-18:00
*special lightings during spring, summer and autumn
ENTRANCE FEE: above high school 400 yen, junior & elementary school 200 yen

★Next TRAVEL IDEA spot of ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto - Visiting Temples and Shrines' is ‘Nijojo Castle

★TRAVEL IDEA ‘10 Things To Do in Kyoto'
① Visiting Temples and Shrines
② Buying souvenirs
③ Visiting Arashiyama・Sagano
④ Having Kyo-ryori
⑤ Wearing Kimono
⑥ Having Japanese tea
⑦ Having seafood
⑧ Visiting shops in Machiya
⑨ Being exposed to a traditional culture
⑩ Feeling nature