Kiyomizu-dera refers to several Buddhist temples, but most often refers to the Otowasan Kiyomizudera in eastern Kyoto, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The temple was designated in 1994 along with other sites to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Kyoto. The temple complex also houses several Shinto shrines, notably Jishu-jinja, dedicated to Okuninushi-no-mikoto, a god of love.
The Kiyomizu-dera was built around a waterfall. The word Kiyomuzi is formed from the Japanese words kiyoi and mizu, which mean translated ‘pure water’. It was founded in 780 on the grounds of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills, deriving its name from the pure waters of the fall.
The main hall of the Kiyomizu-dera is known for its wide terrace, which was built together with the main hall on a wooden beam construction on a steep mountain slope. The terrace offers visitors a beautiful view of the numerous cherry and maple trees, which in the spring and autumn are a veritable sea of colors, as well as the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which was built together with the terrace without nails, houses the main object of the temple, a small statue of the eleven-faced, thousand-armed Kannon.