Take the plunge at one of Kyoto's most iconic sights.
A popular stunt during the Edo period, the expression “to jump off the stage of Kiyomizu” still resonates centuries later as a Japanese euphemism for risk-taking or ‘taking the plunge’. More than 200 people risked their lives jumping off the terrace attached to the temple, believing that if they survived their wish would come true.
Since the practice is now banned you won’t get to witness plucky tourists plummeting 13 meters to their good fortune but you can still enjoy a just as dramatic skyline view of Kyoto’s cityscape and the surrounding hillsides. It’s one of the most famous scenes of Kyoto – you’ll spot it on postcards everywhere – and it’s easy to see why.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is also known for its “power spots” dedicated to deities of love and longevity, and even to boosting your test scores.
Start by praying at the three-tier pagoda (Koyasu Pagoda) that promises a smooth delivery for expecting mothers. Then scale up the steps behind Kiyomizu-dera’s Main Hall to Jishu Shrine (a.k.a the “Cupid of Kyoto”). Lovesick, looking for love or hoping your current love life can withstand the test of time? You can perform your own love divination by walking between a pair of love stones with your eyes shut – no peeking.
Finally, round-up your luck by taking a sip (or three) of holy water at the Otowa Waterfall, located right at the base of the wooden veranda. This wish-granting waterfall, which gives the temple its name, is divided into three streams where you line up and use long-handled cups to get a sacred swig.
The water’s wish-granting properties include a long life, success at school, and more of that lurve. But one too many sips may weigh down your luck, so drink sparingly (you don’t want to look desperate).