Special Night Viewing in Kiyomizu Temple

October 3, 2016

by Misato Yamada and Yukiko Yoshizawa

Some people might have heard the name of Kiyomizu temple, which is located in Kyoto and renowned for a large stage, in fact, other ones might have been to this temple before. You will imagine sight of daytime, but you can see different views of this temple in the evening for some events. These events are named special night viewings and they are held in spring, summer and autumn. If you become interested in this event, please come to these special night viewings. This event is mainly supported by Kiyomizudera Monzenkai, which is the group of businesspeople in the shopping district of local long-established stores and shops in Kiyomizuzaka area.

Kiyomizu temple in daytime

Kiyomizu temple in daytime

Special Night Viewing

Special Night Viewing


・Highlights of This Event

The highlights of these night viewings are the lighting up of Kiyomizu temple and upsloping street leading to the temple’s main entrance. In spring and autumn, you can see beautiful, fantastic sights of cherry blossoms and colored leaves lit by lights. Also, there is a dirty pond on the way to this temple, but reflected light shows very incredible beautiful view to you. As you see, light reflect on the pond and colored leaves are reflected on the surface of the pond as if it is a mirror. If you have visited this temple just in daytime before, you must be surprised with the beauty of the pond. In summer, there is a special experience in a main hall of this temple. Although we’re not allowed to enter the inner most place of this building in daytime, we can go in there during the special night viewing and offer light to the main idol with candles. Furthermore, various shops around Kiyomizu temple are open not only in the daytime but also in the evening, and you can buy souvenirs and eat food on the way back to your accommodations or the way to the night viewings. I’m afraid you cannot go in nearby Jishu shrine which is renowned for luck in love in the evening.

Incredible beautiful pond

Incredible beautiful pond

・Garden Lanterns

A lot of garden lanterns made of Japanese paper line the side of the way of Kiyomizu temple and the sloping streets which you go up to visit this temple. And, in the same season of the spring special night viewing, another event, called Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro, is held and streets lit with garden lantern’s streets reach from Yasaka shrine to Kiyomizu temple. These lanterns light the streets, so you can walk this area safely and romantically.

・The dates and times in 2016

・Summer: August 14~August 16

7 p.m. (entrance opens)~9 p.m. (temple grounds will close)

・Autumn: November 12~December 4

6 p.m. (entrance opens)~9 p.m. (temple grounds will close)

 ・Admission fee

・Adult: 400 yen

・Elementary and junior high school student: 200 yen

 ・If you have questions…

In special might viewing in summer, you can see staff wearing T-shirts. You can see staff wearing white happi coats during special night viewing in spring and autumn. If you have questions, you can ask them.

 ・The shops

There are a lot of shops near the Kiyomizu Temple. The various shops sell snacks like Yatsuhashi, a soft slice of chewy rice dough filled with sweet red beans. You can eat inside of some stores. Many shops also sell pottery, fans, and small items emblematic of Kyoto. We recommend that you buy your souvenirs in these local shops.


   ・Kyoto City bus

  1. From Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu-michi

→Line No.206 or Line No.100

After getting off the bus, you have to walk for about 8 minutes.

2,From Shijo-Kawaramachi to Kiyomizu-michi

→Line No.207

After getting off the bus, you have to walk for about 8 minutes.


・Keihan train

  1. After getting off the train at Kiyomizu-gojo station, walk for about 20 minutes. You can take the Line No. 80 bus instead of walking. In that case, you take the bus at Gojo-keihanmae, and get off at Kiyomizu-michi.)

2,After getting off the train at Gion-shijo station, walk for about 25 minutes. You can take the Line No. 207 bus instead of walking. In that case, you take the bus at Shijo-        keihanmae, and get off at Kiyomizu-michi.


・Hankyu train

After getting off the train at Kawaramachi station, walk for about 25 minutes. You can take the Line No. 207 bus instead of walking. In that case, you take the bus at Shijo-Kawaramachi, and get off at Kiyomizu-michi .)



From central Kyoto, a taxi ride might cost between 1000 yen to 3000 yen, depending on your starting point. A taxi ride will save you the 8 minute walk uphill to the temple. If you have 3 or 4 people, the cost might not be much more than a bus ride for everyone. Tell the driver, Kiyomizudera, onegaishimasu.


Kiyomizu Temple is a wonderful place. We strongly recommend for you to visit there. We will be happy that this web page is useful to you. We hope that your travel is satisfactory.




Kiyomizudera Monzenkai. http://www.monzenkai.com/access_map.html

A Visit to Hiei

by Airi Kinoshita

About 1200 years ago, when Emperor Kammu established Heian-kyō (the former name of Kyoto city) as the capital of Japan, Mt.Hiei in the northeast of the city was regarded as the only defect in the city‘s wealth of natural advantages. No one would come near to the wild mountain as it was rumored that demons and evil spirits were hanging out there, so Emperor Kammu ordered the building of Enryakuji temple to appease or expel these demons and strengthen Kyoto’s defenses. Northeast is believed to be an unlucky direction in the Shinto religion, which accounts for why people often built temples or shrines in the northeast to create barriers against anything evil.

Now, Mt.Hiei is no longer the horrible place that troubled Emperor Kammu so much, rather, it has become a popular tourist spot. Many hotels and restaurants have been built in neighboring areas, and there is a cable car and a ropeway service also available. You will find many options open to you on your visit, but I would like to introduce two that I think are quite special.

The Garden Museum

The first spot is The Garden Museum on Hiei. The museum grounds are designed using the artworks of French and Dutch impressionists like Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh for inspiration. Visitors will be welcomed by about 100,000 flowers of 1400 varieties including roses, lilacs, water lilies, daffodils and so on. One of the most popular gardens is the Water Lilies Garden, which was inspired by the artwork of Monet. Monet admired Japanese sense of beauty so much that he made a great Japanese style garden, including a lake with floating water lilies, around his residence, and drew several pictures of it. I am sure you will understand why this type of garden fascinated Monet so much when you visit here. Afterwards, when you got tired of walking, you can always stop in at Café de Paris and enjoy a drink from their selection of herb teas. Moreover, Maison de Fleur, a souvenir shop in the museum, not only sells French general goods or aroma oils but also provides workshops on how to make original herb soaps.

The Cafe de Paris

The second spot I feel is most worthy is Hiei-zan Enryakuji. I have already introduced the origins of the temple, but now it has become a far more visitor-friendly place. The temple welcomes visitors who lead busy lives and are in need of some peace and quiet, and allows them to experience zazen or shakyo. Zazen is a style of meditation done in a cross-legged position, and shakyo is the transcribing of sutras. Both require you to put all other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on self-identification. In the clean, fresh air and nature of Mt.Hiei, you will be able to forget all that troubles you in daily life and feel as if you are reborn.

Enryakuji Temple

Hiei autumn colours

Becoming Beautiful at Sennyu-ji

by Susuki Rie, Aya Suzuki, and Yuino Takenaka


Sennyu-ji is a Buddhist temple that is located in Higashiyama-ku in Kyoto, near Toufukuji. It was founded in the Heian period and is dedicated to the Amida Buddha, Shaka Buddha, and Miroku Buddha. This temple is commonly called Mitera or Midera and originated as a small hermitage where the Emperor Kouhou-Taishi lived during the Tencho era (824-834). In the temple, there are imperial tombs of the successive emperors, including emperor Gohorikawa, Emperor Shijo of the Kamakura period, Emperor Gomizuono of the Edo period and many other emperors who came after him.

When you visit Sennyu-ji, you pass under a big wooden gate. On your left you will see the Youkihi-kannon-zo enshrined in the Yang Guifei Kannon-do. This is a sculpture that combines the Kannon, the Buddhist Boshisattva of Mercy, with the Empress Yang Guifei, an empress of Tang-dynasty China. So the sculpture is also called the Yang Guifei Kannon-zo. This statue is an Important Cultural Property. It was made in China and brought to Japan in 230. It is said its exquisite beauty is because it was made as a way for Yang Giuifei’s lover, the Tang-dynasty Chinese Emperor Xuanzong, to pay his last respects to her.

Yang Guifei

Yang Guifei was also known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China and one of the three most beautiful women of the world. She was also known as the woman who caused the An Shi Rebellion, because the Emperor Xuanzong loved her too much. The Yangs were taking power, especially Yang Guifei’s cousin, Yang Guozhong. Jiedushi An Lushan revolted against the Yangs because of their despotic behavior (the An Shi Rebellion). He said that the cause of this rebellion was the Yangs and demanded Emperor Xuanzong to do away with them. Yang Guifei was killed by her eunuch. She died at age 38 in 756.
It is said that the person who prays to this sculpture of Yang Guifei will be able to become beautiful. So many Japanese women visit this temple to pray for beauty. Also, good-luck charms for beauty are sold at this temple.If you want to become beautiful, please come to this temple and pray to this Yang Guifei Kannon-zo.

Further on beyond the gate of Sennyu-ji is the Butsuden, the temple building where the main Buddhist image is enshrined, and the Shariden, or reliquary hall. Behind these buildings are the Reimyouden, the Gozashyo and the Tsukunowaryo, which are all halls closely connected to the Imperial family. On top of the tiled roof of the Butsuden are two tile ogres. If you look at the ogres’ eyes from a distance of 1.5 meters, they say you will be able to see the eyes sparkle. According to a long-held tradition, it is said that if you can see the eyes of tile ogres shine, then you will be able to get married in the future. Please take a look and see if you can see them sparkling. The beautiful shapes of these temple buildings especially stand out in the seasons of fresh green and colored leaves.

Personal Impression

It was the first time for us to visit Sennyu-ji. One day, our friend told us about Sennyu-ji and Yang Guifei. Neither of them are very well known. In fact, we didn’t know them either. But we were interested in Sennyu-ji and Yang Guifei. We were very surprised that the temple was very big and beyond all expectations. Our friend told us, “If you pray to Yang Guifei, you can become beautiful.” So we prayed and bought a good luck charm for beauty.

We went to Sennyu-ji in the season of colored leaves, so when we passed under the big gate, we could see the temple matched with leaves which were colored yellow and red. We thought it was so beautiful and we were moved. Two eyes of the ogre were really shining mysteriously. We could have many good experiences at the temple. Sennyu-ji is not famous but we think it is a good unknown spot and is worth a visit. If you visit Sennyu-ji, you can buy some Japanese sweets nearby. We bought some and they were so delicious and beautifully made. We think if you visit Sennyu-ji, you can be satisfied with both the temple and foods.

Near the temple are many places of interest, especially the temples of Tofuku-ji and Unryu-in. In this area they sell some traditional sweets: sekihan manju (steamed bun), mikasa manju (two small pancakes with bean jam in between), and miso dango (dumpling with sweet miso paste).


By Bus
Nearest bus stop: Sennyuji michi
From Hankyu Kawaramachi Station: Shijo-Kawaramachi bus stop ( No 207)
From Kintetsu Kyoto Station (Exit Karasuma): City bus (No 208)
From Kintetsu Touji Station: City bus (No 202 207 208)
From Gion-Shijo Station: City bus (No 207)

By Taxi
From Kintetsu Station (Exit Hachijou)
Necessary time: 5 minutes to Sennyuji Michi

By JR line
Nearest station: Tofukuji Station (Nara line)
10-minute walk

Adult: 500 yen
Elementary school student: 300 yen

Map: http://kyoto.asanoxn.com/places/higashiyama_sth/smhgymap.htm


by Naomi Kawahara and Kasane Kondo

Within this beautiful temple complex there are many buildings that were established in the Edo era. The Jodo (Land of the Pure) sect was established here by the High Priest, Honen. Here you can see trees with stunning red leaves lit up at night in the fall, and the delicate beauty of cherry blossoms in spring. Due to the idyllic setting, many people decide to hold their wedding ceremony here, too. Are you familiar with the seven wonders of Chion-in? Let’s look around and find them!

Chion-in Online Tour

Sanmon Gate

The Sanmon Gate

At first, a huge gate Sanmon welcomes you into Chion-in. It’s 24 meters high and 27 meters long, which makes it the biggest gate in Japan. The master builder of this gate, Gomi Kinuemon, also made the wooden statue, which is set upon the roof. There is also a coffin constructed of plain wood, Shiraki-no-kan, beneath the statue, which symbolizes the burial place for Gomi Kinuemon and his wife, who killed themselves by the sword to take responsibility of the soaring costs of building such an enormous gate. Unfortunately, you can’t see the coffin from outside, though. Sanmon express three (San) things, emptiness, innocence, and selflessness. If you pass through the gate, it is said that you are on the path to Jodo (Land of the Pure).


Upon passing through, you will see immediately Otoko-zaka. This is called the “slope of men” but it is actually a set of steep steps, which lead to the main temple.

Otoko-zaka: The Slope of Men


Purification Water

At the top of the steps, you can see the map of the Chion-in complex on your left. And if you walk a little further, there is a kind of water trough that you make use of to purify your hands before you worship. You can also drink this water. Next, there is a resting place with an information desk.

Map of Chion-in

The Trough of Purification



Now, you should head over to Kemuri-Kaburi, a giant incense burner which gives out clouds of sweet smelling smoke. It is said that if you waft the smoke around your head, you will become smarter and your body will be healthy.




The belfry – Shoro – is located a little far from Miei-do. The bell itself weighs 70 tons. It is struck every year on the anniversary of Honen’s death, in April, and on New Year’s Eve, by 17 monks.

Shoro - The Giant Bell



Kyozo is located near Miei-do. It is a storehouse for sutras, the sacred books of Buddhism. It has a sutra storage case and it was once believed that if people walked around it, they could gain edification without actually reading the real sutras.




After a short stroll, you will come to the main hall, Miei-do. It has the capacity to hold four thousand people, and is a famous but commonly used temple that people like to visit. The high priest Honen is enshrined here, and it was established by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1639. One of the seven wonders is the forgotten umbrella, Wasure-gasa, which is located inside the southeast eaves, and which has two stories behind its existence. One is that a skillful craftsman, Hidari-Jingoro, left it as an amulet to avoid misfortune. Another is that a white fox left it as thanks to a high priest who made a house for him. In any case, the umbrella is connected with water, so it is believed that it helps protect against fire.

Miei-do - The Main Hall

Wasure-gasa: The Forgotten Umbrella

When you walk along the passage between Miei-do and Daihojo, Uguisubari-no- roka, your footsteps make a sound similar to birdsong. It is said that even Ninja could not avoid making the sound when they walked the same path.




There are several of the seven wonders in Daihojo. A multi-dimensional cat picture, Sanpou-shoumen-neko, which was drawn by Kano Nobumasa, gives the impression that you are viewing the same image, when viewed from all sides. The sparrow in flight, Nuke-suzume, is a picture of a sparrow, set on the Kiku-no-ma of the building. The sparrow gives the illusion of being real in the picture, as if it is actually taking flight.


Kohojo is located next to Daihojo. The large wooden ladle resting here, Dai-Shakushi, symbolizes that everyone in the world can be saved. It is 3 meters long, and weighs 30 kilograms.

Honen’s Shrine

High priest Honen passed away at the age of 80 in Chion-in. Therefore, there are 80 steps to ascend to Seishi-do. In the inner part of Seishi-do, you will find a shrine to Honen.


On your return to the main gate, we recommend you pass along the Onna-zaka ‘the slope of women’. These are the opposite steps to Otoko-zaka and the least steep steps between the shrine and the gate.

Onna-zaka: The Slope of Women



The unusually named “melon” or “squash” stone, Uryuseki, can be found near the black gate, Kuro-mon. A melon/squash was grown on this stone by the black gate. The plant that grew here did so without human intervention, totally of its own accord. Perhaps, this is typical of the wonderful things that seem to surround this beautiful, historic and spiritual place, Chion-in.