Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto: A Better Route To Get There

Kiyomizu-dera/Kiyomizudera is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto that is typically on every tourist’s must-see list. This is not surprising as it’s one of the most exquisite temples in Kyoto. Specially, during Spring and Autumn, the surrounding flowering trees and fall foliage along with the colorful pagoda make for postcard perfect photos.

Since it’s so popular, it also means that it’s very crowded right from the point where Matsubara Dori meets Higashi Oji Dori, where you begin the uphill journey to the temple. Here, I am suggesting an alternate route to Kiyomizu-dera which can give you some rerprieve from the crowd.

The Usual Route To Kiyomizudera

Before I explain the alternate route, first I will lay out the usual route that is taken by most tourists to Kiyomizudera.

  1. Take the 100 or 206 bus from Kyoto Station.
  2. Get down at Kiyomizu-michi on Higashi Oji Dori.
  3. Walk uphill on Matsubara Dori till you reach Kiyomizu-dera

An Alternate Route To Get To Kiyomizu-dera

The usual route is a very simple route. However, as I mentioned before there is an alternate route that is less crowded. This route may not be preferred by some due to reasons I’ll explain later. Nonetheless, this route is beautiful in its own way and quite peaceful being away from the crowd. The bonus is that you will see some more temples along the way as well.

So, here’s the route

  1. The first part of the route stays the same. That is, you take the bus 100 or 206 from Kyoto Station
  2. However, instead of getting down at Kiyomizu-michi, get down at Gojozaka which is one stop before Kiyomizu-michi.
  3. From the bus stop at Gojozaka, walk back towards the intersection where the big four lanes Gojo Dori and Higashi Oji Dori meet.
  4. Here, you will see a small bridge leading up to the entrance of a temple as shown in the picture below:
    Entrance To Otani Hombyo Temple
  5. Otani Hombyo Temple

  6. This temple is another Buddhist temple known as Otani Hombyo temple. The temple is not as grand as Kiyomizudera but still impressive. Check out the pictures of the temple below.
    Impressive Entrance of Otani Hombyo
    A View of Otani Hombyo Temple from the foot bridge in front of the temple.
    Otani Hombyo Temple
    Otani Hombyo Temple
  7. After visiting the temple, exit through the doors to the side of the temple on to a narrow lane going uphill as shown in the picture below.
    Narrow Lane From Otani Hombyo To Kiyomizudera
  8. Other Sites On The Way To Kiyomizudera

  9. Along this lane, you will see blocks of stones mounted on top of each other with a rectangular stone at the top. The tall stones usually have some writing on them. It’s not hard to guess what they are. Yes, they are gravestones.
    As you climb higher, the entire graveyard comes into view as shown below. As I mentioned before, some people prefer to avoid this route for this reason.
    Huge graveyard on the way to Kiyomizudera.
  10. As you continue to climb up the hill, you will see other small temples. They are mostly deserted. Not many people visit them even on weekends.
  11. Small Temples On The Way To Kiyomizu-dera
  12. At the the end of the lane you will spot the upper stories of the pagoda, peeping from top of the hill. To reach Kiyomizudera, you have to climb up the flight of stairs leading up to it.
  13. Glimpses of the Pagoda At The Top Of The Hill

Things to Do At Kiyomizu-dera

At the top, apart from the main temple off Kiyomizu-dera, there are other structures such as the elaborate gates, shinto shrines and other Buddhist halls and temples. All of them are worth a capture. Check out my collection:

Other Structures On Top Of The Hill
An Elaborate Gate At Kiyomizudera
Beautiful Structures At Kiyomizudera
The Pagoda in full view at Kiyomizudera

The sad part for me though, when I visited Kiyomizudera, was that the main temple was under construction. The roof restoration is scheduled to last till March 2020. So, if you are visiting during this time, you will also miss the view of Kiyomizudera in its entriety. However, you can still see part of the wooden stage which Kiyomizudera is famous for.

To get inside Kiyomizu-dera, you have to pay an entrance fee of 300 yen. You can buy the ticket from the ticket sales booth near by.

The Otowa Waterfall Of Kiyomizu-dera

Another attraction, apart from the Kiyomizu-dera, that draws people to this place is the Otowa Waterfall. After you visit the temple, you will notice a long line in front of a small temple like structure with three streams of water flowing down from pipes in the roof. Legend has it that the three streams of water from the Otawa Waterfall represent Long life/ good health, Love and Knowledge.

Otowa Waterfall Of Kiyomizu-dera : Three streams of Health, Love and Knowledge

Whichever you need most in life, go for that stream. However, don’t drink from more than one stream. It’s considered bad form and a display of greedy behaviour. Also, if you do this, your blessings are apparently halved.

Koyasu Pagoda – Blessings For A Safe Childbirth

Your journey doesn’t end here. There is a path that continues on from Kiyomizu-dera to Koyasu Pagoda and Taisanji Temple. It’s not too far and I would recommend visiting it. If you are expecting a child soon, you can pray at Koyasu Pagoda for a safe childbirth.

Koyasu Pagoda – Blessings For Safe Childbirth

You can venture further and visit the Taisanji Temple.

After visiting all the temples, you can head down Matsubara Dori and enjoy the shops and restaurants along the way. This way you will not miss out on Matsubara Dori, if you used the alternate route to go up hill.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it useful. If so, please don’t forget to share it on social media.

Also, If you use this route to get to Kiyomizu-dera, please come back and comment. I would like to know if you enjoyed this route.

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Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

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