24 Hours in and around Kiyomizudera

Mention Japan and sightseeing and the primary name that may come to most individuals’s minds is Kyoto. Ranked the world’s best big city by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine in 2020, it’s the type of place you’ll be able to spend several days touring around, yet only scratch the surface. Many who go there try and tick off as many temples and shrines as they’ll. That’s wonderful if you’ve every week or so in town, but for those with limited time, cramming in too many sites could be tiring. During our short visit, we decided to remain in only one area, near the renowned Kiyomizudera Temple. Despite only having 24 hours, we still managed to suit quite a bit in, without exhausting ourselves.

Romantic Rocks and a Spinning Statue at Kiyomizudera

Some say, when you’ve seen one temple in Kyoto, you’ve seen all of them. There’s a component of truth to that, especially when walking around town for too long. Nevertheless, there are also temples and shrines that stand out above the remainder. Kiyomizudera unquestionably belongs in that category. It’s arguably the premier attraction in town — and for good reason.

The ten-minute walk up the hill from the nearby bus stop will likely be swarming with people. Nevertheless, on account of the covid-19 pandemic, the streets were almost empty once we visited. The temple grounds are at the highest of the hill they usually are most famous for the three-storied pagoda at the doorway and the primary wood stage behind it. Beyond these two structures, though, there’s much to see and do. 

Okuninushi via sharing-kyoto.com

It’s an awesome location for couples, not only due to stunning views of Kyoto’s skyline and the Koyasu pagoda, but in addition on account of Jishu Shrine in the back of the wood stage. Here, you’ll find the smiling statue of Okuninushi, the god of relationships, in addition to two stones set 18 meters apart. Should you could make it from one to the opposite along with your eyes closed, your relationship prayers will likely be answered. 

Drinking from one among the streams on the Otowa Waterfall can also be said to learn one’s love life. The opposite two streams are believed to bring longevity and success in school. There are many other places across the grounds to wish for good luck. Some of the interesting is the one-of-a-kind Kubifuri (spinning) Jizo statue in front of Zenkojido Hall. Made within the image of Jizo Bosatsu, the guardian deity of kids and travelers, you make your wish before the statue, then turn its head 360 degrees. 

Otowa Waterfall via muza-chan.net

A Night at an Old Elementary School

After having fun with the sunset at Kiyomizudera followed by a go searching a few of the shops nearby, it was time to envision in to The Hotel Seiryu Kyoto Kiyomizu. The previous site of Kiyomizu Elementary School, which had been positioned there from 1933 to 2011, the constructing has been converted into an opulent accommodation with 48 rooms. 

Walking across the place, you’ll find remnants of the old skool here and there including a cute little red post box in what was the playground, and doodles on the staircase from former students. 

hotel seiryu

Kiyomizu Elementary School was converted into Hotel Seiryu Kyoto Kiyomizu in 2011.

Along with the historical elements related to the hotel, there are also spectacular views. Some rooms look out onto the yard, while other guests are fortunate enough to have the impressive sight of the 46-meter tall Yasaka Pagoda of Hokanji Temple facing them once they open their curtains. The five-story pagoda may also be seen from the guest lounge where those staying can enjoy free snacks and drinks, including alcohol. 

Inside the hotel grounds, on the primary floor, there’s the luxurious bistro Benoit Kyoto. First opened in Paris greater than a century ago, it serves classic French cuisine that comes with seasonal flavors and ingredients. After having fun with some exquisite duck with a few glasses of wine, it was then time to enjoy a cocktail at the fashionable rooftop bar K36 while looking across the spectacular nightscape of Kyoto.

Kyoto’s rooftop bar K36

A Sound Bath with a Tibetan Monk 

It was then an early start the subsequent morning to try one among the hotel’s activities. The stillness and quietness of Kyoto make it the perfect destination to practice Zen meditation. There are several temples throughout town that provide mindfulness sessions in a tranquil environment. During our stay, nonetheless, we desired to try something much more unique: A Zazen sound bath with a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

We sat down for our 90-minute session in a small room searching onto an idyllic Japanese garden. It felt like the perfect surroundings for what truly was a serene experience. The chief priest uses what are often called crystal singing bowls that emit distinctive vibrations. These vibrations stimulate the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies, helping you slip right into a more relaxed state.

For individuals who struggle to clear their minds during silent meditation, this approach does feel more practical. At ¥30,00, it is dear, but for those wanting to try something a bit different during their trip to Kyoto, it’s value it. The hotel has a wide range of other activities to select from as well including a helicopter flight plan and a tea ceremony. 

Sannenzaka

A Stroll Around Southern Higashiyama

Before trying out, there was time for a personal hot spring bath on the hotel (¥6,000 for 90 minutes) followed by a healthy breakfast at Restaurant Library The Hotel Seiryu, a novel setting, that because the name suggests, looks more like a library than a dining area. 

We then had a few hours to kill before heading to town center to get the shinkansen back to Tokyo. With the sun out and few people around, it was the right day for a stroll. The Seiryu Hotel is surrounded by a few of the most scenic streets in the entire country. 

While most individuals head to Gion to experience traditional streets in Kyoto, the stone-paved alleyways of Ishibei Koji, Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka in Southern Higashiyama are arguably even prettier. Home to many immaculately kept inns, bars and restaurants, walking around this area felt like we had been transported back to the Edo Period. It was the right strategy to finish what had been a really short, yet satisfying stay in Kyoto.  

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