First stop on our Kyoto itinerary is Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple that is listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. When you go to the temple coming from the steep lanes of Higashimaya district, the first structure you’ll see isn’t the main hall just yet. Instead, you’ll be greeted by vermillion colored gates and shrines that are characteristic of Japanese Buddhist temples. Even though I’ve seen so many of these already, they still don’t fail to tickle my fancy. The bright colors and whimsical shapes are a photographer’s dream (even for an amateur like me), especially with the addition of cherry blossoms.
After a few minutes of walking (and ogling at the vermillion shrines), you’ll see not far ahead a huge brown building that looks like a theatre stage. This is the main hall. Would you believe not a single nail was used to construct it? Wow! And yet it sits on top of a hill and has a large veranda jutting out over the hillside! Back in the Edo period, there was a belief that if you were to take the 13meter jump from the veranda and survive it, your wish will be granted. 234 jumps were recorded during that time, now though it’s no longer allowed. You can just enjoy the magnificent view of the cherry and maple trees around the temple and the city’s skyline in the distance. You’ll also see the Otowa waterfall beneath the main hall with three streams of water that fall into a pond. Each stream represents longevity, luck in love and success in school and visitors who drink from them are blessed with these benefits. I didn’t drink from the stream of water though but hopefully, my prayers were heard.
Behind Kiyomizu-dera’s main hall stands Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking (which is probably why I saw a Japanese couple taking prenup photos on the steep stairs leading up to the shrine’s gate). The thing that stood out to me the most here was the “love stones” (you’ll see a photo of one of the stones below). It is said that if you successfully walk from one love stone to another placed 18 meters apart with your eyes closed, your wish of finding love will be granted. If not, it will be long before you find love. You can have someone help you achieve the task but if you do, it also means that you will need someone to play matchmaker or intermediary in order for you to find love. Aside from the love stones, there are various other charms, paper fortunes and more available for anyone looking for love. So single ladies and gents, time to make your way to this shrine!