YOUR FIRST VISIT TO KIYOMIZU
YOUR FIRST VISIT
Simply join your hands in prayer
with a calm mind.
THE SPECIAL TOUR
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple offered a special tour around the temple guided by an English-speaking priest for international visitors. We planned this as a way to give visitors an even deeper understanding of Kiyomizu by sharing a variety of traditional stories in connection with many famous, historic spots and the reflections of Kannon’s merciful heart throughout the grounds. We are confident that the tour participants enjoyed experiencing this profound Kannon Reijo, a holy place with over 1200-year-long history. We will announce future tour details as soon as they are ready.
YOUR FIRST VISIT TO KIYOMIZU
Throughout the grounds of the over 1200-year-old temple stand a variety of historic monuments and artifacts that reflect the deep compassion of the Kannon. This special tour provides intriguing and profound insight into the temple as a Kannon Reijo (holy place) along with views of each season’s colorful landscapes.
The tour begins at Otowa Waterfall, a spot with a deep connection to the origin of the temple. An explanation is given of the magical water that welled up even before the temple was built. The waters are divided into three streams at the vermillion shrine worshiping Seiryu (the blue dragon) above the waterfall and fall from the height of four meters. Originally the healing waters were believed to answer various prayers, and those who drank from any stream could receive the same blessing. Today, people believe that each of the three streams can separately answer prayers for good results at school, good health, and romantic relationships. First you pay a visit to Fudo , the God of Fire enshrined deep in the waterfall, and ladle out the healing water from one of the streams for a drink.
Tour participants seem to enjoy this fascinating experience. After Rev. Eigen Onishi, the priest who guides this tour, explains the temple’s origin, he offers them a scoop of the healing water. Some of the participants are surprised to learn that they are really allowed to drink it.
- REV. ONISHI:
- At most shrines, visitors generally rinse their hands and mouths with water. Here in Kiyomizu, you can really drink the pure water of Otowa Waterfall as you offer a prayer. This holy water is famed for being mineral-rich while containing an extremely low amount of organic substances.
In the Main Hall, the tour participants are allowed to enter the naijin (inner sanctuary), the area that is usually closed to the public, and given an opportunity to visit the Eleven-headed Thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva, the principal image of Kiyomizu-dera. Appreciating the principal statue (or in this case, to be precise, its replica), the two attendant statues (they are also secret Buddha images), and twenty-eight attendant statues at both sides of the Kannon, visitors are astonished by this atmosphere of solemn magnificence. They also listen to Rev. Onishi chanting the sutras, and join their hands in prayer as they spend time admiring the statue of Kannon. A participant asks a question about the proper manners and rules for offering prayers.
- REV. ONISHI:
- There are no special manners for offering prayers at Kiyomizu-dera Temple. You simply put your hands together in front of the Kannon. That will be more than enough.
Taking in the stunning view from the Kiyomizu Stage, the participants hear how the stage structure was built using traditional Japanese construction methods. They become absorbed in the story of managing and maintaining the temple, which boasts a variety of historic buildings on its vast grounds. We happily share with them how we strive to hand down our cultural treasures to the next generation.
SAI-MON [WEST GATE]
The next spot is Sai-mon, the West gate that is also known as a holy place for Nissokan , a meditation method of visualizing the Pure Land while viewing the setting sun. The priest guiding this tour gives a brief lecture about Buddhist thought, noting the distant view of Kyoto city. The participants ask him various questions about the priest’s daily practices and routine, including how he lives his daily life and what made him enter the priesthood. They seem to enjoy this rare opportunity to talk with a priest so casually.
(A STONE ENGRAVED WITH THE BUDDHA’S FOOTPRINTS)
(A STONE ENGRAVED WITH THE
In Taho-kaku, the tall building where the Buddha’s ashes are enshrined, the participants view the Bussokuseki (usually closed to the public), a stone engraved with the Buddha’s footprints. The four-meter long footprints carved in black marble fascinate the visitors. The elaborate design of the footprints signifies the universal truth that the Buddha preached in this world.
The participants listen to a lecture about the Buddhist meaning behind the Japanese-style garden while appreciating Jojuin’s renowned Moon Garden. They then sit on the veranda and take in the scenery of the garden for a while. Just as on this tour, spending time leisurely is a precious opportunity to think about one’s self and sense the presence of Kannon. All the participants enjoy every moment in the relaxing atmosphere of Jojuin, whispering, “I feel as if time stopped,” and “I don’t want to leave.”
- EIGEN ONISHISub Steward, Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Since its establishment over 1200 years ago, Kiyomizu-dera Temple has been cherished by the general public as a holy place where the Kannon’s compassion prevails. A large number of visitors have flocked to the temple to pay their respects to Kannon, who earnestly listens to peoples’ desires. While visiting Kiyomizu, they stroll through the grounds, enjoying beautiful landscapes in all seasons, exploring a variety of Buddhist buildings, and listening to fascinating stories about the historic spots. It is said that Kannon is a deity who appears as an embodiment of each person’s invisible “heart of gratitude.” We hope your visit will give you an even greater sense of gratitude for your everyday life through a deeper understanding of the origin and history of Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
KANNON REIJO, A WIDELY WORSHIPED HOLY PLACE