Alright, I’m ready to talk about the temples :)
After our brief encounter with the Nishiki Market and our detour for some Soba Noodles, we finally made our way over to the Southern Higashiyama and began our tour of the Kiyomizu-Dera temple, one of Kyoto’s most popular sites.
According to the posted placards, the Kiyomizu-Dere temple was founded by a great priest in 778 A.D. and enshrines an image of Kannon Bosatsu, a Buddhist god of mercy and benevolence.
There were so many different structures to explore. It felt busy, but not too crowded.
The main hall had a large terrace built, amazingly, without the use of a single nail. Had I known this while standing on it I might have been a bit more apprehensive!
We learned that legend has it, if you jump from this terrace and survive, your wish will be granted. Apparently there have been at least 200 jumps recorded over the years, of which *most* have survived.
No record of whether or not their wishes came true…..
All ideas of jumping to your demise aside, the views from the terrace were beautiful and you could see the whole of Kyoto’s city scape from there. On one side, a bright orange structure sat alone on the green mountain–a striking and gorgeous contrast.
The temple complex itself was named for the waterfall that runs nearby. Kiyomizu means “pure water”. At the bottom of the mountain, were the Otowa-no-tak waterfall ends, we watched visitors ceremoniously dip water from the pool in little cups on the ends of long sticks. It is said that if you drink this water, well, more wish granting happens. We didn’t know this at the time. Mo participated in the ceremony of it all, but it’s too bad he didn’t know to wish for anything!
There were a number of other symbolic tasks visitors engaged in. Before they entered the temple, people burned incense and fanned the smoke onto themselves in an attempt to cleanse bad spirits. The sultry smell of the incense wafted across the entire veranda and gave the feeling that, despite it being filled with tourists, this was a sacred place.
Up a few steps there was a shrine to the god of love. If you walked between the two “love stones” with your eyes closed, it was said that you would find your true match. We didn’t try this one either because–pause for sickeningly sweet, sarcastic “awwww”–we have already found each other.
On our way down the mountain it began to rain and we took shelter at a little restaurant that had an outdoor covered dining area where we had our own open air “hut” that we could sit in indian style, sans shoes, at a little low table. We huddled together as the rain poured around us and looked out at the greenery behind the hut. It all felt very sweet. This was the first time since we left that I really relaxed and said to myself “ahhhh, this is what this trip should be like”.
And then the waitress ran through the rain and brought us this strawberry milk ice!
And I had thought it couldn’t get any better……;-)