Autumn: Oct - Nov

Kiyomizu-dera Temple | The Best Time To Visit in 2024

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Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto, Japan. The temple is known for its spectacular views, which can be enjoyed from the main hall and the wooden stage. The surrounding trees change color throughout the year, creating a beautiful backdrop for the temple.

The best time to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple is during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and the temple grounds are awash in color. In the fall, the leaves change color, creating a stunning display.

However, the best seasons are also the busiest times of year. It’s great to plan ahead and avoid the crowds, you can have a much more enjoyable time at Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the best time to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple and How to avoid crowds

Best Tour
10 Must-see Spots in Kyoto One Day Private Tour
10 Must-see Spots in Kyoto One Day Private Tour

What is Kiyomizudera temple

The Niomon Gate and the Shinto komainu in Kiyomizu-dera Temple
The Niomon Gate and the Shinto komainu in Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a famous Buddhist temple located in Kyoto’s eastern Higashiyama district, was founded by the monk Enchin. Inspired by the pure water cascading from Mount Otowa, he envisioned this place of worship. In 798, Japanese military leader Sakanoue no Tamuramaro oversaw the construction of the temple’s main hall.


The buildings are also steeped in history. For example, the wooden stage that stand out from the main hall and the Otowa Waterfall, which is said to have three different benefits. Another unique feature is the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism architecture found throughout the temple.
At the entrance, there are the Buddhist Niomon Gate, which is guarded by two guardian kings, and the Shinto komainu, or lion-dog statues. There is also a Jinshu Shrine, sub-shrine of Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Best seasons

Autumn Season(Middle to Late November)

kiyomizu-dera temple fall foliage
kiyomizu-dera temple in fall foliage

Kiyomizu-dera is the most famous spot to see autumn leaves in Kyoto. There are over 1000 Japanese maple trees on the hillside and around the wooden stage. Although there are many gardens which maple trees grown in, mainly maple trees in Kiyomizu-dera garden are only one type which is Japanese maple tree, leaves of which change color at the same time. In fall season, those trees turn gradient fire color from yellow to red and the view is breathtakingly beautiful.

Typically, most of maple tree leaves start changing color from mid – late fall season. In 2022, the peak time of fall leave in Kiyomizu-dera was from the 3rd week to the 4th week of November, and it’s expected that changes will occur around the same time in 2023. Lighthouse azaleas, which are shrubs planted beside strolling path, were also begin to turn red color. If you want to decide on the date to visit in fall foliage, this forecast site can help.

Fall foliage forecast site

if you visit before fall foliage of maple trees, leaves of cherry blossom that grow hill side of Higashiyama change autumn color earlier. Moreover, Maruyama Park of cherry trees, which change color 2weeks earlier than maple trees. It’s a 15-minute walking away from Kiyomizu-dera temple.

Spring Season(Late March to Early April)

Kiyomizu-dera temple with cherry blossom

The spring is also good season to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple.“Somei-Yoshino“ cherry trees, which most familiar cherry blossom attract tourists. All Somei-Yoshino trees produce pale pink 5-petals flowers at the same time, because of identical gene, propagated by grafting onto other stick. During the cherry blossom season, Kiyomizu-dera Temple also offers special night viewing. The sight of the cherry blossoms in full bloom, illuminated by lights, is simply breathtaking and beyond words.


Although cherry blossoms views with Kiyomizu-dera Temple are stunning, it is short bloom time around 7 – 10 days.

If you want to decide on the date to visit, cherry blossom forecast site can help.

Cherry Blossom Forecast site

There are long wisteria garden arches in front of Kiyomizu-dera gate. Typically one month after cherry tree bloomed, Japanese wisteria make beautiful lavender lace flowers, one of the Kiyomizu-dera beautiful spots. Those arches are also used for shady resting place. 
Japanese azalea, planted beside the strolling path for Japanese garden shrubs, also make cute pink and white flowers at the same time.

if you visit before blooming period of Somei-yoshino, there are early blooming cherry blossom in Kyoto area. I recommend to see weeping cherry blossoms in Maruyama Park and Honmanji Temple bloom a week earlier than Somei-yoshino.

Special Night Viewing Event

Special Night Viewing Event of Kiyomizu-dera
Wooden stage with autumn leaves
The tree-storied pagoda and cherry blossoms
The three-storied pagoda and cherry blossoms

Kiyomizu-dera Temple holds a special night viewing event for a short period of time every spring, summer, and autumn, which is very popular.

The main building, the wooden stage, the three-storied pagoda, and the Niomon Gate are all lit up. In addition, the seasonal trees are also illuminated, creating a magical scene with cherry blossoms in full bloom in spring and red leaves in autumn. And above all, a single beam of blue light, symbolizing the compassion of Kannon, is cast into the Kyoto night sky.

For more information, please see the related post.

Best time of the day to visit

The stairs leading to Kiyomizu-dera temple

The shopping streets leading to Kiyomizu-dera temple are crowded with many tourists in the spring and fall.

To avoid crowd

  • It’s better to visit at 8 am and there are the shopping streets “Sannenzaka street” and “Ninenzaka stree” which is open at 9 am, on the way back from temple.
  • Avoid weekends and holidays.
  • Walking and using the train is good to get there in time.
    It’s a 20-minutes walking from the nearest station : Keihan Line “Kiyomizu-Gojo” station to Kiyomizu-dera temple.
  • If you are heading to Kiyomizu Temple from the nearest station, Kiyomizu-Gojo Station, there are two routes: “Gojo Street” and “Sannenzaka street”. Gojo Street is less crowded. On the other hand, the route through Sannenzaka street has become a tourist spot where you can see the five-storied pagoda in Hokan-ji along the way.
    Incidentally, Yasaka-dori route is a popular tourist destination and offers a view of the five-storied pagoda at Hokan-ji along the way. While it may be more crowded, it can be a pleasant experience if you don’t mind the crowds.
  • If it’s not high seasons, Bus is also convenient to get there in time. It’s a 11-minutes walking from the nearest bus stop: Kiyomizu michi to Kiyomizu-dera temple.
  • Staying in a hotel or an inn near Kiyomizu-dera temple is also popular. Around Kiyomizu-dera temple, there are other beautiful spots : “Maruyama Park” which is the oldest park in kyoto, “Ninnaji Temple “declared by UNESCO , Kodaiji temple constructed in the lavish style of the era and Gion where is the traditional Japanese female entertainers area.
    A one-day walking tour of those tourist attractions is quite popular.
Best Tour
10 Must-see Spots in Kyoto One Day Private Tour
10 Must-see Spots in Kyoto One Day Private Tour

Information

①Kiyomizu-dera temple

Open hours

PeriodTime
Normal
6:00 – 18:00
Summer season (Jul.1 – Aug.31)
6:00 – 18:30
Special night viewing time
(Mar.23th – Mar.31th)(Aug.14th – 16th)(Nov.18- Nov.30)
6:00 – 17:30 (Day time)
18:30 – 21:30 (Night time)
(21:00 Last entry)

※Temple is closed during after day time and before night time(17:30 – 18:30)


Admission

Ticket typePrice
Day time ticket
※Cannot be used as a Special night viewing ticket
Adult: 400 yen
Child: 200 yen
Special night viewing ticket
Adult: 400 yen
Child: 200 yen

※Child is under 15 years of age.



②Jojuin temple

Open hours

PeriodTime
Autumn season
Nov18 to Nov30
9:00 – 16:00
18:00 – 20:30(Special night viewing)

Admission

Ticket typePrice
Day time ticket
※Cannot be used as a Special night viewing ticket
・Adult: 600yen
・Elementary and junior high school student: 300yen
Special night viewingticket

・Adult: 600yen
・Elementary and junior high school student: 300yen

Regular holiday
None


Address
1 Chome-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862


It’s a 20-minutes walking from the nearest station : Keihan Line “Kiyomizu-Gojo” station to Kiyomizu-dera temple.

Flowers and seasons

※The time when the flowers bloom varies slightly depending on the year.

FlowerMonth
Plum blossomMid Feb – Early Mar
Cherry blossomLate Mar – Early Apr
Japanese azaleaMid Apr – Early May
wisterialate Apr – Early May
Japanese maple tree
(fall foliage)
Late Apr -Early May

Link and resource

Official website
Kiyomizu-dera temple(EN)

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