Kyoto has hundreds of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Excuse my lack of cultural intelligence but personally I think they're all more or less the same in design, landscape, what tourists get to see/do etc. So I make it a point to visit only those that were gazetted as a world heritage site by UNESCO. And at the top of that list is Kiyomizu Temple.
Coming to Kyoto and did not visit Kiyomizu Temple is like going to Mecca and did not visit the Holy Mosque :p The temple is considered one of Japan's national treasure. It was established in year 778, that was even before Kyoto became the capital of Japan .
Visiting the temple during the day is great, but it's even better if you can catch the special night openings. You can check the schedule at their website. We caught the final day for Kiyomizu Temple's 2011 Autumn light up. There were sooooooo many people. The line for tickets goes all the way down, blocking the entrance to the souvenir shops in front of the temple. But as always, the Japanese are very efficient in making sure the queue moves in no time.
There are stairs EVERYWHERE within the temple site since it is located on a hill so baby strollers are not recommended. Strollers are OK to push your baby up the slopes heading towards the entrance but not to bring inside the temple. They do provide a stroller parking area. With the crowd and not enough lighting to see your way, I highly recommend using a baby carrier instead.
|View of Kyoto skyline from the temple. On the right is Kyoto Tower.|
|What's special about autumn in Japan is that you get to see multiple colors of leaves on one tree. They're not just brown... they're red, orange, yellow... nice!|
|The famous Kiyomizu Stage. Those huge 12-meter high pillars underneath were assembled without using a single nail! Glad I knew that AFTER my visit. There must have been hundreds of people on the stage at the same time that we were on it!|
|Visiting this pond alone is worth the 400yen you had to pay to get in (200yen for children 6 years and above). The reflection of the red trees and lights and the temple... It was breath taking!|