Saturday, January 2, 2016

Japan Trip 2015 - Kyoto - Kiyomizudera

Still in Kyoto, we visited a place called Kiyomizudera. The Japanese (Chinese characters) literally translates to Pure Water Temple. The place is kinda built around a waterfall on a hill and therefore the name, Kiyomizudera.
The Higashiyama District leading to Kiyomizudera. Quite crowded.
As you can see from the picture above, it is quite a popular place for tourists both international and domestic alike. Along the network of roads in the Higashiyama District leading to Kiyomizudera were dozens of businesses selling food, snacks and other touristy things.
This is the main gate leading into Kiyomizudera. From far off, you can see a pagoda (which is cool from this westerner's point of view) but the gates are pretty cool too.
These aren't real geisha walking up the stairs to the main gate. They are actually tourists! It has become popular, especially with Thai visitors, to rent kimonos (and whatever the male equivalent is) and wear them for the day as they tour the temples and shrines of Kyoto. I have to say that it gives the atmosphere just that little bit extra. We didn't dress up, but we may just do so next time ;)
The pagoda is pretty all by itself, but even though we were a little late for the cherry blossoms, there were plenty of flowers blooming on trees that added to the beauty.

And Pae added EVEN MORE to the beauty ;)
 Sometimes traveling to places like Korea and Japan in spring is that you go a bit too early and get very little green. This time we were lucky, even though we were late for the cherry blossoms, to be able to see a green landscape rather than dormant trees.
I really like pagodas. Perhaps, outside of samurai, ninjas and Karate Kid, the pagoda was one of the things that I associated to Japan when I was a kid, knowing that I had Japanese blood. So yeah, I took a lot of pagoda pix. This particular pagoda is called Koyasu Pagoda. It's kinda far away from the main hall. They say if you walk to it (and you are pregnant?) that you will have a good childbirth. We didn't go there ;) but we walked down to the base of where it is located. We won't be birthing any children anytime soon, haha.
More green leaves just starting to grow back on the trees that surrounded Kiyomizudera. I've seen photos online of winter (snow) and of autumn as well...all are absolutely beautiful.

Stunning view of the main hall and its wooden support beams that were all handmade and built by hand, kinda reminded me of Lincoln Logs ;)
 This is the main attraction of Kiyomizudera, the big wooden stage that sticks out of the trees from the main hall. The main hall is situated right in front of the Jishu Shrine.
 Reading up on this wooden platform, I learned that people used to take the thirteen meter leap from the platform to the ground below. If they survived, their wish would come true...ummmmm, no thank you!! 80%+ of the jumpers actually survived (that's like 4-5 stories and a hard landing). Yay, lucky them!! That practice has been banned of course, but it was interesting to read!

Who gonna jump from that??? CRAZY!!
Down below the shrine and Main Hall is where the waterfall splits into three streams and pours into a small man made pond. Drinking water from the waterfall is said to bring good luck. The three streams give good luck for Love, Studies and Long life.
Here are the three streams from the waterfall falling into the pond. Long life, success in love and success in school are the blessings from drinking out of these three falls. You are thought of as being GREEDY if you drink from all three streams of water...oopsy. I got up there and stuck my long stick with a cup at the end under each stream and drank up. I didn't even know at the time that one was for "school" ;) Dumb foreigner! Pae, Mom and Dad seemed to do fine though.
I'm not the only one who loved the green of the shrine grounds. This is one thing that I miss about living in the temperate climate of New England and even Utah. The tropics (Thailand) has totally different foliage...I prefer a temperate climate with it's trees and seasons.
Here's a good photo showing both the three streams of the waterfall (with people waiting in line to drink from it) and the platform from the Main Hall 13+ meters above.

On the way out of the shrine, we saw a Thai Monk (tourist) taking photos of the pagoda and this monk (I think he's a monk) collecting donations. For some reason he reminds me of a character in the game Mortal Kombat.
Ah, Raiden, that's right, hahaha
I'll leave you with these last three photos. Nearer to the entrance of the Wooden Platform of the Main Hall were these iron bars. There are two sizes, larger (really large) and smaller. It is said that if you are able to lift the iron bars, that you will have good luck.
I tried, even though they looked very heavy. The smaller ones were for women, the larger one for men...

I failed. To be fair, the angle at which you need to bend your back to get a good grip on the iron bar is such that it takes a lot of your strength away. Would I had been able to lift the bar had I been able to step right up to it?
Probably not, because that thing was thick and long!! But it still gives me a little bit of an excuse why I stepped up in front of the family and failed miserable to even budge it!!! Hahahaha!

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