We woke up to a chilly drizzling Sunday, our last day in Kyoto. Today's itinerary included Kiyomizudera, a Buddhist Temple halfway up the hillside of Mt. Otowa and one of Kyoto's UNESCO World Heritage sites. The regular bus from Kyoto Station dropped us off 750 meters away from the temple.
It's an uphill 750 meters walk through a charming residential street lined with houses and small stores. Even if it was cloudy and cool, I still found myself out of breath and perspiring once we got to the top. Talk about being out of shape!
You continue to climb once you get on the temple grounds. We stopped for a while at one of the pavilions that offer a sweeping panoramic view of Kyoto below. Amazing that such an old and historic landmark can be so close and convenient to the city.
This is the famous viewing deck of the main temple of Kiyomizudera. The rest of the temple buildings have been under reconstruction for the past years so you can only stand on this balcony and look down at the temple grounds below.
The balcony is made wholly of wood and it spans the treetops, a good 13 meters above the ground.
It is supported by giant logs, in a grid like structure. Such a marvel of design and architecture!
The viewing deck was so crowded with tourists and pilgrims that we could hardly find a place to stand.
The best view though is right across -- from this point, you see the full majesty of Kiyomizudera.
It's really incredible that this temple has been around since the 8th century.
Still within the temple grounds, we came upon this small restaurant offering light meals of soba and udon. Since we were still not quite hungry, we weren't sure if we wanted to just wait and eat somewhere in the city.
What clinched the deal though was that the waitress led us to this empty booth right across -- made of wood, open and airy, with tatami mats and a low lacquered table, it hung suspended above the hill.
It would be like lunching in a tree house. What a unique and charming idea!
It didn't matter to us that the only items left to order were the tsukimi soba and tsukimi udon -- we would have that. Anything would have tasted good in this setting!
Here is my bowl of tsukimi soba -- noodles in a soy based broth with a poached egg on top. Very simple yet perfect for this cool, slightly wet day.
Leaving our "tree house", we passed these viewing platforms set amidst the tree tops -- for viewing the red and gold leaves of autumn, due in a month's time.
Kiyomizudera really means "pure water temple". It gets its name from the waterfall found on Mt. Otowa.
At the base of the temple grounds, we saw a long line waiting to get a drink from the waters of the falls -- there are three streams flowing and you choose which stream you want to drink from depending on the prayer or wish that you want granted.
One is for long life, another for a happy romance and the third stream is for success in examinations.
We're back at the street that leads down to the main avenue, 750 meters away.
The walk down is always easier, always faster.
We walk off with happy memories -- of a stunning view above the trees, an unforgettable lunch hanging from a hillside and this charming sight of young kimono clad women, come to pay their respects and perhaps get their wishes granted, at Kiyomizudera.