Kyoto again: Kiyomizu Temple is a must-see

Kiyomizudera is beautiful

Kiyomizudera is beautiful

Random Observation/Comment #34: Pachinko and slot places are freakin’ loud.I think the objective of the gambling machine is to deafen the user and then mesmerize them with random videogame screenshots as they feed in more cash.

People are way too enthusiastic and awake at 7AM on a Saturday morning.All the old people have already started their routine walks, and all the tour guides have pushed it upon the tourists to get the most out of their vacation by checking off their temple sight-seeing locations.Only the businessmen in suits and college students looked a little dreary at their long day ahead.And where did I fit in?I was hung-over from the night before, stumbling with 3 hours of sleep, and led by my delusional view of the world.I shuffled with the morning crowd as a zombie – I guess I wasn’t that different.

As I mentioned before, Kyoto is filled with culture.There are dozens of temples and shrines sprinkled throughout the culture areas, but I consider only a handful of major attractions.I think you can experience most of this in 5 days.Each day would be filled with miles upon miles of pebbled paths and streets filled with small houses, but you would absorb as much culture as you can endure.I suggest taking breaks to some city areas instead of trying to spend 5 consecutive days experiencing this beast.There’s too much walking and all the white folks would probably get burnt after the first day out in the sun.Now I see why there are so many umbrellas even though there’s not a cloud in the sky.

This walk was centered on Kiyomizudera, which was highly suggested by every person I asked about Kyoto sightseeing for the past three months.The hype was built up, and for some reason I expected a bit of disappointment compared to my imagination.From the postcard pictures and website images, I built the image of a glowing dragon made of leaves, encircling an enormous temple on the overhang of a cliff.Its scales would be fluttering in the cool breeze and shimmering with the reflections of fiery desire for attention.This may sound difficult to compare, or even top, without the changing leave colors from the autumn foliage, but trust me when I say that the view was spectacular.

I didn’t imagine the layers of detail with every type of tree surrounding the temple.The design of the two temples facing each other (and the rest of the country side) was so well anticipated for the view of peace, beauty, and a hint of insignificance. I stood there motionless, staring across to see Kyoto tower in the distance.My arm rested on the ledge with my head pouched across my palm, but my soul was gliding across the tree tops and seeing this view from all angles.The temple was CAD-ed into my brain and I marveled at this creation that would act as my memory and inspiration for years to come.Please judge it for yourself.

I walked from Kawaramachi station to reach Kiyomizudera, but visited many different temples and shrines before reaching this treasure.Although Kiyomizudera cannot be topped in beauty in my eyes, I would not have wanted to go there without seeing the other temples. I felt that this portion of Kyoto was geared towards the much larger temples with cemeteries and active prayers.To me, it seemed more of a place of grief than wishful prayers.The fewer number of shrines and monotonous deep-toned hymns of the temple monks induced different emotions.It sounded like respect and dedication.The graves stretched across the mountainside like rice fields.I refrained from taking too many pictures, but left with a bit of happiness for being alive, healthy, and in good company.

I got extremely lost walking towards Kiyomizudera because I thought it was going to be less crowded (at least I wasn’t the only one lost).The key is to follow the crowd of touristy looking people with maps and khaki shorts – I laugh.You’ll see a lot of tourist shops with cheap merchandise perfect for gifts to your friends, family, and loved ones back home.The soy donuts and ice cream are recommended.Hint: Dip the donut into the ice cream for a delicious blend.It reminds me of my mom’s famous French fries and ice cream concoction.

The best part about Kyoto is the random men and women dressed in traditional kimono outfits.They walk side-by-side with a beautiful umbrella held by the woman.I have no idea why they dress up, but it gives a much desired texture to my pictures.

The Kiyomizudera entrance fee is 300 yen, but I think people would pay much more for the pictures and gorgeous view.There’s a small area of charm shops and little shrines on the left after walking past the first temple.This is a great place to buy those lucky charms because they’ve been the cheapest I’ve seen out of all the temples I’ve visited in Kyoto and Nara.Some of them are only 300 yen, and they are very pretty.Here, you’ll also find a few interesting rituals, like the Love stone (walking from one stone to another to find love), and also the patting of the bronze buddah for your wishes to be answered.

Continue walking towards the main attraction and be sure to take the beautiful picture with the pagoda in the distance and the fountain below.Circle around and stand at the temple across from you to take the famous picture embodied in most postcards.I stood there for a good 10 minutes just soaking like a sponge (I was also drenched in my clothes, so maybe that’s why I felt like a damp towel).Some people walk down the stairs, but I continued the scenic view towards the distant pagoda.There are a few great shots across this path with the full view of all the temples and pagodas.

The fountain at the bottom level is supposed to be some sort of holy water.You wait in line and grab one of those metal ladles bombarded by UV light cleansing.Proceed to fill the cup with water and drink.I did it because everyone else was, but it didn’t taste too holy.Maybe it tasted extra holy, but it didn’t really quench my thirst or give me any type of enlightenment.It was an experience, none-the-less, and I’m glad I performed another interesting ritual.

Explore some side streets and take a look at a few other shrines.It took me approximately 5 hours to walk the little section, but I stopped often and walked at a turtle’s pace (the whole while complaining to myself under my breath).There is much more to see of Kyoto near Kingakuji, but I think it will have to wait for my tour.I left the beautiful city, but continued my next journey at 5PM.It’s a tale of excitement and intensity that deserves its own separate journal entry.

~See Lemons Immersed in Culture