Monday, January 6, 2014

Discovering Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera and Higashiyama Street

Apart from the rapid modern development of Tokyo, what reflects Japan at its best would definitely be Kyoto (京都). Located in Honshu, it has a population of 1.5 million and formerly the imperial capital of Japan.

My travel mates and I slotted Kyoto on the 15th of November 2013, after our 2 days trip in Tokyo. Survived the long, overnight bus ride via Willer (don't get me wrong, the bus service is good, but the overnight journey and basically almost zero sleep on the bus is not) from Tokyo to Kyoto, about 8 hours journey.

Autumn Scenery

Kiyomizu-dera's most photographed view (minus the poser in there of course)
First thing we did was to check in our hostel, J Hopper Kyoto. You can tell that they're seasoned in the accommodation line as the receptionist is fluent in English, and very resourceful in helping us to plan our Kyoto sight seeing routes. Plus, I would say that their hostel, albeit giving a little of the rustic, Japanese house feel, it is very equipped with state-of-the-art toilet (yes, I can't seem to get over the fact that I love Japanese toilets, bear with me, I come from Malaysia), wi-fi and clean hostel all together. Would recommend J-Hopper anytime!

Reception area at J-Hopper

After checking in, we made our way via bus (which I need to emphasize, the buses are punctual) to Kyoto's famous temple, Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺, lit Clear Water Temple). An independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, and probably the most visited temple (both by tourists and locals) in Kyoto. From the most pictured veranda of Kiyomizu-dera, it was said that those who took the plunge (and survived), their wish would be granted. Of course, that is illegal today, but I wonder if I would take the jump, what could possibly happen? (Bungy potential here).

Several shrines are located close to Kiyomizu-dera as well, including the famous Love Stone in the Jishu Shrine. #Foreveralone people may change their fate by attempting to walk from one love stone to another (about 6m apart) with their eyes closed. If succeeded, they can find the love of their life (jeng jeng jeng).

Charms being sold for luck/love/invisibility power
The Love Stone

Also, you should visit the Otowa Waterfall, located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Separated into three streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink the water from the waterfall. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. I personally had no idea which one I took (I recalled taking the one far left, facing the waterfall) but anyhow, any blessings that is available, I'll take it.

Eating in Kiyomizu-dera, probably not the best place to find great food. The servings are decent, for sure, but you're better off finding your fix of food at the nearby streets of Higashiyama. The narrow lanes and the adjacent, rustic wooden Japanese shop lots do invoke the feeling of being in the old Japan. Recommended for souvenir shopping, snacks and having your lunch if you fancy the more traditional taste of Japanese food. Within walking distances are the Yasaka Shrine, Yasaka Pagoda, Kodaiji Temple and Heian Shrine.

I would personally recommend a whole day to venture starting from Kiyomizu-dera and make your way around Higashiyama to the various shrines that surrounds the region. As recommended by, walkers can also make their way to the Philosopher's Path for the Ginkakuji Temple. Time constraint on my end, as we only made it half a day here. Never the less, your trip to Kyoto should encompass here, otherwise you probably have not seen Kyoto :)

PS: Extra pictures taken from around the area

Taken at the Kannon Ryozen memorial temple

1 comment:

  1. I love kiyomizu dera temple. Omamori of this temple is aivalable on ... I hope one day to return to Japan