My day in Kyoto starts with the most important temples in this area, Kyomizu dera/清水寺. Literally translated as “Pure Water Temple” which was founded around 780 AD and now being added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
The one thing many like to do is explore this Kyoto in kimono. Why? Because of the ancient city matches well with kimono costume. Trust me.
Kyomizu Dera & Kimono
My day started pretty early and arrived at Kyomizu dera at around 9 am. The kimono rental shops aren’t too many people as yet as they just open for business which is a good thing for me as they have plenty of choices with different colors and patterns for me to choose from. The Kimono wearing and hair setting took me about 30 mins and cost me 3000 yen (USD27.15). I will do another kimono renting blog solely to explain with more in-depth about kimono and other things you may want to know.
Now lets me show you the important things you should pay attention to when visiting Kyomizu dera.
Kyomizu Dera Entrance Ticket
There is a fee to pay to enter Kyomizu dera, it cost 400 yen and open daily from 6 am to 6 pm. No closing day. The ticketing staffs speak English.
The Huge Wooden Stage
The temple’s wooden stage is also known as “Butai” is one the most famous thing to see in Kyomizu dera but too bad when I was there it is under maintenance. Luckily we are still able to go in and check out the thing inside the wooden stage plus the view from the top. I have been here when I was a student in Japan so I wasn’t too disappointed because at least I see how the wooden stage looks like. One great thing about this “Butai” or wooden stage is its architecture, there is not a single nail used in the entire structure!
Jumping Off the Wooden Stage
According to legend, it brings good luck if you jumped off the wooden stage and survive. So far it is reported 276 Japnese have jumped off the wooden stage but only 80% of them survived. I don’t think you will survive because the stage is about 4 stories high and even if you survive you may lose a hand or a leg.
Check out the view
The stage is always full of tourists no matter what time you come. From the temple wooden stage, you will get to see the whole skyline of Kyoto city.
Lift the Giant Spear
Near the entrance, there is a huge spear placed in a hole in the wooden walkway. According to legend, there was a giant warrior monk named Benkei used the spear as a walking stick and left it at Kyomizu dera. And the funny thing is if you can lift it, you will have plenty of luck. Many school children are trying their best to list the 90 kg spear. The bodybuilder should be able to lift that 90kg spear 🙂
Bless water from Otowa no Taki
There is a very long line to get the blessed water which originates from Otowa Waterfall/Otowa no Taki. It is located at the bottom of the wooden stage. You will see three streams of water coming out from the top and the ladle is super long as compared to the usual ladles you see in the Japanese temple. The three stream of water, each representing something good – improve your studies, relationship, and long life.
Three Story Pagoda
The pagoda would look more stunning at night with illuminated lights. Different seasons and timing gives a different view.
Japanese tea house
You can take a rest at this traditional tea house for matcha and Dango snacks at around 500 yen (USD 4.50). My favorite of Japanese snack would be Sweet Azuki Red Bean Soup with Mochi also known as “zensai”. This dessert has the traditional Japanese taste and best to eat in the old temple.
Shopping outside Kyomizu Dera
After you have explored the temple complexes of Kyomizu Dera, there is plenty of shopping nearby. The shops are selling mostly Japanese for local and foreign tourists. Check out the top souvenirs in Kyoto Kyomizu Dera.
1. Japanese fan
The Japanese fan makes a great gift, easy to bring home. Hundreds of fans line up for you to choose from, different print and fabric.
2. Japanese Pottery
Pottery or in Japanese they called it “yakimono” is one of the oldest Japanese crafts and art forms. A different region in Japan produces a different style of pottery. These are an affordable one.
3. Kyoto ware
Kyoto Ware is the high-end pottery to be produced at kilns in Kyoto with a history of 1,200 years. Kyoto ware is still made by hand and Kyoto is the representative production site for Japanese pottery.
4. Japanese Geta
The pair of traditional wooden sandals look good with yukata in summer, not very easy to walk on by the way. It makes good souvenirs too.
Food to try in Kyomizu Dera
1. “Okoshi” – Traditional Japanese Crispy Rice Crackers
The crackers are made of rice and tasted sweet and the origins go back to the Edo period, almost 200 years ago. You also find other versions of “okoshi” in a different flavor, in green tea or brown sugar.
2. Mitarashi Kushi Dango
The Dango at a stick with 5 small balls cost150 yen (USD 1.35). This is a traditional “wagashi” or Japanese sweet which are coated with a sweet soy sauce called “mitarashi”. Kyoto is the birthplace of Mitarashi Dango but now you do find them everywhere in Japan.
3. Green bun with pork filling
The skin of the bun is in green and that is color from the spinach vegetable. The filling is pork, serve hot and selling at 400 yen (USD 3.60) This is not the traditional snacks in Japan but more selling for Korean and Chinese or Taiwanese tourists.
Kyomizu dera is one of the must stop in Kyoto and experience it with Kimono is a fun way to stroll around this ancient temple. There are many Japanese and tourists wearing kimono walking around this area so do not be fear, you are not alone in Kimono. Plenty of kimono rental shops in this area as well. Go early to secure the nicest outfit with your favorite print and color is my advice to you.