Skip to content

Kiyomizu-dera

Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan

One of the 21 Finalists

Kiyomizu-dera

Kyoto, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺) is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site.

The place is not to be confused with Kiyomizu-dera in Yasugi, Shimane, which is part of the 33-temple route of the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage through western Japan, or the Kiyozumi-dera temple associated with the Buddhist priest Nichiren.

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the “Kitahossō” sect.

The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.

The popular expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression “to take the plunge”. This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited.

Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.

The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”. Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of “love stones” placed 18 meters apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love. One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person’s romantic interest can assist them as well.

The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes). The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year’s and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.

In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World. However, it was not picked as one of the seven winning sites.

The Official

New 7 Wonders of the World

Cristo Redentor

statue of Jesus in Río de Janeiro, Brazil

Chichén Itzá

Pyramid at Chichén Itzá, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Machu Picchu

15th-century Inca site in Peru

Petra

Arabian historical and archaeological city, Jordan

Great Wall of China

series of fortifications built along the historical border of China

Taj Mahal

A white marble mausoleum in Agra, India

Colosseum

elliptical amphitheatre in Rome

Worldmap

The 21 Finalists

Latest News

New7Wonders continues, find out how in our News Room

Bernard Weber & New 7 Wonders featured in Switzerland’s number one magazine

Zürich, 10 October 2023 The number one magazine in Switzerland publishes a cover article honouring the New 7 Wonders movement Founder-President, Bernard Weber. Coop magazine, with a readership of 3 million in a nation of 9 million inhabitants, also tells the story about how the world’s first ever global voting campaign for the New 7 … Continued

New7Wonders Wonder Marker at the Great Wall celebrated across Chinese News Media

Beijing and Zurich, 10 July 2023 The official unveiling of the New7Wonders Wonder Marker on 7 Wonders Day 2023 at the Great Wall has been widely reported across mainstream and social mobile media throughout China, recognising and celebrating the importance of this historic moment. Video news reports, distributed through the main mobile news portals that … Continued

Great Wall of China Unveils New7Wonders of the World “Wonder Marker”

Beijing and Zurich, 7 July 2023 Today marked the unveiling of the Wonder Marker, the 3 metre high signpost that celebrates the Great Wall of China as one of the official New 7 Wonders of the World (N7W) as chosen by a global public vote.  The ceremony took place at Huangyaguan Great Wall, Tianjin Province, … Continued

Great Wall of China to Unveil New7Wonders of the World “Wonder Marker”

Beijing and Zurich, 5 July 2023 On Friday, July 7, the Great Wall of China will unveil the “Wonder Marker,” the official symbol created by the New7Wonders Foundation (N7W) to honour the seven most remarkable historic sites on earth.    The unveiling will take place at Huangyaguan Great Wall, Tianjin Province, one of the most … Continued

The New 7 Wonders of the World celebrate 15 years

The New 7 Wonders of the World celebrate their 15th anniversary on 7 July 2022, as this is the date when the Wonders were announced at the official declaration ceremony that took place in Lisbon, Portugal in 2007. On a historic night on an equally historic date, 7/7/7 – the 7th of July 2007 – … Continued

Wonderful Content loading...

Hello! Contact New 7 Wonders Close

Do you have any questions about the New7Wonders campaigns?
Are you writing an article, do you have a project in mind?
Maybe you have an idea using the New7Wonders concept?
Whatever it is, just say "Hello!" to us, and we will reply as soon as we can.

If you are from the press or a media organisation, or a social media reporter, please use this form to contact our Communications Department.

If you have an idea involving the New7Wonders concept, or maybe you want to associate New7Wonders with your product or brand, or any other commercial or business or new creative idea, please use this form to contact Jean-Paul de la Fuente, New7Wonders Head of Value Development.>