As mentioned previously, when we arrived in Kyoto one of the first things we did was meet with our additional Doshisha University language buddies. My buddy, Mayu, was kind enough to take Aki and I to see the famous Kiyomizudera on Monday afternoon.
Kiyomizudera (清水寺) is on the eastern side of Kyoto and is one of the most famous and popular Buddhist temples in all of Kyoto. It actually has several key points of interests inside of it – it’s a massive temple structure.
But! before heading there, Mayu took us to the river near the Doshisha campus (Kamogawa, 鴨川), where there was a really fun little pedestrian passage parallel to the bridge.
There were these adorable turtles to use as stepping stones. It seemed to be a popular hangout spot for families with kids – it was a very hot day so there were plenty of people wading through the water.
I really loved that Mayu bothered to bring us through this place, because it’s the type of thing that I would never have noticed otherwise. Mayu grew up in Kyoto and knows a lot of fun spots like this!
Anyway, after that brief adventure, we got on a train to the area near Kiyomizudera. To approach the temple grounds you have to walk up this street filled with wonderful little shops – both snacks as well as fancy omiyage and even traditional Japanese goods. This includes a fancy hello kitty shop as well as a Ghibli store!
Perfect day for some matcha (green tea) ice cream!
Eventually, we finally reached the entrance to the temple. It was totally packed with people!
Beyond the main hall is the Jishu Shrine (地主神社), which is the shrine dedicated to the Gods of love and matchmaking.
Inside the shrine there are two stones (the first one shown below). It’s said that if you are able to find your way from one stone to the next with your eyes closed tight, you will find true love! There two stones are not very close together – so it’s alright to have a friend help guide you along the way.
And the second stone, below.
The place was heavily decorated for the Tanabata Festival (七夕祭), which is a festival dedicated to two star-crossed deities who are in love, but are separated by the Milky Way. The Festival is the one time per year that the deities are able to meet. The Jishu Shrine was particularly lovey-dovey in theme at the time we visited!
Beyond the Jishu Shrine was some extensive temple gardens, eventually leading to a famous waterfall-style fountain structure. We had to sort of bypass the waterfall activities because it was just way too crowded, unfortunately.
After strolling through the temple grounds for a while, we headed back to the train station and made our way to an area called Shijo (四条), where we got some food and then hung out in arcade just to chill for a while. Shijo is one of Mayu’s favorite places to hang out; it has lots of nice stores and loads of karaoke joints, from what I could see!
Looking at this photo makes me extremely hungry. While I was in Japan I got really addicted to delicious raw and half-cooked eggs (生卵 and 半熟卵). You just can’t get the same stuff in the US!
I seriously respect anyone who is good at this game, Taiko no Tatsujin (太鼓の達人). I am seriously awful at it, but it’s probably my favorite arcade game in Japan.
Thanks to Mayu, I really had a great day and got to explore some beautiful parts of Kyoto. Kiyomizudera is a place that is definitely worth an additional visit in the future. As always, Kyoto adventures to continue in several more posts!