Photo By: Matthew Coslett
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kyoto
Population
2,644,331

Tainai Meguri

The famous Kiyomizudera temple’s secret venue.

Kiyomizudera is one of the must-see sites in Japan. What separates this temple from the many others in Kyoto are that there are so many amazing sights to see: from the temple itself to the Moon Garden and the 11-armed Kannon Bodhisattva. With so much to see, it can be surprising to discover that there is a site that many people miss: the Tainai Meguri, Kiyomizu temple’s hidden room.

It is easy to understand why so many people miss the room. It can also initially appear that there is nothing to be seen: a nondescript stairway leading into utter darkness with no obvious sights or art work is a tough thing to factor into a tour.

Photo by: Matthew Coslett The Tainai Meguri can be found via a doorway in the Zuigu hall part of Kiyomizu temple.

Despite this, visitors are advised to take the chance and venture into the darkness if only to experience the total blackness at the bottom of the stairs. The atmosphere of the space is supposed to represent the womb of a female Bodhisattva and as a result there is no use trying to get your eyes used to this type of dark, the room has been designed so that the darkness is absolute.

Except for the occasional blinking light of the air conditioning system, the visitor will be unable to see anything and is instead expected to navigate their way through the area using only a thick rope that represents the correct course, knowing that losing touch with this lifeline will leave you lost in the impenetrable blackness until your hands luck upon it again.

Photo by: Matthew Coslett Tainai Meguri is located in Kiyomizudera.

Those willing to persevere into the room’s inky depths will be rewarded, however. After walking through the blackness for a couple of minutes, it suddenly breaks and your eyes are forced to suddenly adapt to the reintroduction of light. In the middle of the darkness, mounted on a display is the source of this light, a halcyon lamp drawing your attention to a power stone engraved with a sacred symbol. Regardless of your religious leanings, the sudden appearance of the stone will move you in some way and that ultimately is the goal of the temple.

After the stone it is only a short trip to the exit. As you emerge back into the sunshine outside, the Tainai Meguri is supposed to give you a feeling of being reborn as the sudden light floods your senses. While Kiyomizudera has no shortage of beautiful things to see, the Tainai Meguri is more of an experience than an attraction and offers a perfect addition to the sights at one of Japan’s most famous temples.

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Things To Know

Fees

Admission to larger part of temple is ¥400. You can enter the grounds for free.

Hours

The main temple of Kiyomizu is generally open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with some special night admission times in summer, spring and fall. More info: http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/access.php

How To Get There

Address

311 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

By train

Take the Keihan Railway Line to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station. Be careful as the Keihan Main Line is not accessible from Kyoto Station. The closest transfer point would be Tofukuji Station—one stop away from Kyoto Station. It’s approximately 20-25 minutes on foot from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station to the temple.

By bus

From Kyoto Station Bus Terminal, take Kyoto City Bus 206 to Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka (a 15-minute bus ride and 10-minute walk uphill to the temple).

By foot

The Tainai Meguri can be found via a doorway in the Zuigu hall part of Kiyomizu temple. 

Where To Stay

Kiyomizu Sannenzaka-An
  • Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 2-257-5 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0862
  • 9.2/10
  • 0.2 km
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Kiyomizu Sannenzaka
  • Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 2-257-4 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0862
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.2 km
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Tsumugi Kiyomizuseikanji
  • 京都市東山区清閑寺霊山町5番地23 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0861
  • 6.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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Kyonoyado Senkaku Bettei
  • Higashiyama-ku Seikanji Ryozancho 5-2 Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto 605-0861
  • 9.8/10
  • 0.2 km
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