(清水寺-Warming up with Shabu-shabu)
#kiyomizudera #jisyujinja #sannenzaka #ninenzaka
What could be better than having “Shabu-shabu” for dinner in a cold evening?
I met my boss Mr. Kuze and his guests visiting Kyoto, at a Shabu-shabu restaurant. While eating the delicious food we had a nice conversation as if we had already known each other. Did our common feeling toward Kyoto make us comfortable? We love Kyoto and shared our thoughts. At the end of the evening we decided to have an early morning walk the next day, from Yasaka Pagoda to Kiyomizu Temple, and then stroll around this beautiful area. When we went out of the restaurant, we were very satisfied for the dinner and really excited for our plan. It was snowing, and we expected Kyoto will be under a white cloak the next morning.
Good morning to Yasaka Pagoda!
A morning walk
It was still dark when I woke up. I met up with the new friends and other members of Kyoto Kiss at 6:30, at the corner of Higashioji Dori street and Yasaka Dori street. It did not snow as I had expected, however, a white veil was covering the roofs. My loved Yasaka Pagoda(八坂の塔) standed elegantly as usual (it is one of my favourite monuments). We started our walk from here, going up to the hill. We stopped to take photos and it started to snow and few minutes later big snow flakes made the view of the Pagoda magical.
The elegant silhouette of Yasaka Pagoda in the snow
We were getting covered with the snow, but all of us had a big smile on our faces! We continued to walk along the path leading to Kiyomizu temple, and Sannenzaka, literally meaning “Three years slope”. We felt happy because we were alone in one of the most famous and crowded places in Kyoto.
At Sannenzaka grand stairs
At the corner of Sannenzaka and Kiyomizu Street we turned left to Kiyomizu Temple. Souvenir shops were closed and it was quite. We went up the narrow street then the main gate of Kiyomizu Temple appeared its orange colour and the mountain’s shape behind the temple made the visit very special in this early morning.
Nio Mon, the gate of Kiyomizu Temple
We passed through the gate, and the big bell, then stopped to look at the city below. “It is amazing!”, “It is wonderful!” were the only words we could say at a such breathtaking view. Then we moved to the main hall that has a huge wooden terrace jutting out over the hillside, and on the right side you can see part of the city too. Every time I come here I am fascinated by the fact that this wooden terrace is supported by 139 pillars whose heights vary from 15 to 18 m, and made without any nails! The logs are dovetailed, and this massive construction has been standing for more than 400 years. How good Japanese carpenters are!
The terrace was covered with snow and as it was not permitted yet to walk in, so we could take some photos of the immaculate terrace facing the hills where there is an orange colour building.
Kiyomizu Temple is one of the few places which is open from 6 a.m. It is good for the neighbours too. There were few devoutes praying in the Hondo Hall. The sutra chanting, the smell of incense, the beautiful hills, and the wooden terrace made the whole thing a deep experience. It was cold, but we were smiling at each other with happy faces.
The Butai, (Dancing Stage), the wooden veranda
Then outside of the Hondo Hall, there are some stone steps leading to Jishu-jinja Shrine where the god of love and good marriage resides. There are two stones set 18 m apart: you have to walk from the first stone to the second one with eyes shut, and if you reach the second stone you will have success in love and marriage. Martin tried, but he did not reach the second stone, just a few steps away he turned right; probably he needs a little more time in his life to find his good match. We had fun together trying to guide him and joking while he was walking.
Martin trying his way to love
We stopped to take photos of the entire shape of Kiyomizu Temple from its left side and our exclamations of astonishment resounded Below this passageway there is the Otawa-no-taki, “Sound of Feather waterfall”. Its water is said to have divine power to prevent or cure illness. In fact Kiyomizu means “Clear water”, and the name of this temple comes from this waterfall.
From this side you can see also the city, but not today due to the weather
Front view of the Butai, veranda, and the high pillars making a masterpiece
Mr. Kuze drinking the holy water from Otawa-no-taki, waterfall
We left the temple with great satisfaction. When we walked down the hill, the shops started to prepare for another busy day. Here, you can find any kind of Kyoto souvenir; especially pottery is remarkable because there were and still are many pottery makers in this area. We went back to Sannenzaka, and then Ninenzaka (Two years slope). These two lanes keep the traditional atmosphere of Kyoto’s houses. Not so many people were there yet, so we were walking as if we were driven back to the past, driven by time machine. It seemed like!
Dreaming at Ninenzaka, “Two years slope”
We continued to walk to Kodaiji Temple, (this temple has not to be missed!). It was unfortunately still closed, so we looked at the view of the city and the shapes of the mountains in the West, from where the big bell is.
Then we moved in the direction of Maruyama Park as our guests had not much time left before leaving Kyoto. It was quite, there was a stone bridge over the calm water of the pond reflecting the surrounding hills. Some birds were singing to the chilly morning. Slowly we moved on to Yasaka Shrine. All of us made an offering and a prayer to the god of commerce and good business at the main shrine.
At the main gate on Shijo Dori street Martin and Tilde greeted us and promised to come again to Kyoto and to have this kind of early morning walks more. We, staff of Kyoto Kiss were very happy to have such nice guests and to walk together through the paths of Kyoto’s beauty and history.
In Italy, we have a proverb that says something like “Early morning is gold” meaning that waking up early is good for many reasons. Actually, we woke up early in the morning, and took a walk, so we were able to feel the fascination of this incredible city without the crowd, distractions or noise. Kyoto has always something to show to an attentive visitor seeking for a genuine experience, even in an early February morning.