“A leap from the stage of Kiyomizu”

This is a proverb that is used when one is willing to risk all to accomplish an impossible dream.

When you see the massive wooden platform that supports this Buddhist temple, made entirely without nails with each interlocking post and beam fitted into place by hand, I think you will understand the significance of this proverb.

Kiyomizu-dera predates the founding of Kyoto and is much beloved by the Japanese people.  Even when other temple and shrines were being destroyed,  it remained a place of worship. It is the sixteenth temple on a thirty-three-temple circuit dedicated to Kannon, the bodhisattva of mercy.

In 778, Enchin, a priest of the Hosso sect of Buddhism, came from Nara and built a hermitage that housed an image of Kannon. The image is still enshrined at the temple today and is believed to be the original and is considered so sacred that it is only on view for a short time every thirty-three years (next in 2024).

Although there are many different parts to the temple, many paths and entries, the complex represents the latter stage of Japanese spacial planning called “sophisticated order.”

The temple is approached by way of the Sanneizaka district, a designated Traditional Building Preservation District of Kyoto.

The temple provides a beautiful and informative website. Especially helpful is the guide for appropriate manners to follow while worshiping Kannon.