When Is the Best Time
Kiyomizu-dera Temple is usually swarmed with tourists. The best time to visit the temple is early in the morning during mid-week. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to move around. To beat the crowds you need to:
- Avoid weekends, go mid-week.
- Arrive early, if possible between 6 A.M. and 7 A.M.: It’s a perfect time to enjoy the magic of this temple in solitude. If you can’t make it that early try to be there at least between 7 – 8 A.M when it‘s still relatively quiet compared to later in the day. TIP: Stay at the closest hotel (walking distance) and get there easily first thing in the morning. See our guest house/hotel recommendation below (Where to Stay).
- You could also arrive late, about 1 hour before it closes. Then you may have the last minutes almost for yourself.
Opening Hours (Entrance Fee 400 Yen)
- Open year-round from 6:00 .a.m.
- Closes at 6:00 p.m. (18:00) or 6:30 p.m. (18:30), depending on the season.
- More details (and night opening hours) here: Kiyomizudera Opening Hours
Spring and Fall Illumination
During fall season the temple and the gorgeious autumn colors are illuminated from 18:00 to 21:00 (6 p.m. – 9 p.m.). This happens also in the spring. Illumination periods are:
- Spring: mid-March until mid-April
- Autumn: mid-November to early December
It’s crowded during this time but definitely worth it. Tip: If you’d like to dodge the heavy crowds during the illumination do not get there early around or before 6 p.m. Instead arrive between 8:30 p.m and 9 p.m. They don’t close at 9 p.m. It’s usually open until 10 p.m. That means you still have an hour or longer with less crowds.
Nature’s seasonal highlights at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto are cherry blossoms in spring and the changing leaf color in autumn. The temple features about 1500 cherry blossoms and 1000 colorful trees with changing leaves.
The temple is one of Kyoto’s top cherry blossom spots, with almost 1500 mountain cherry and somei yoshino trees. The blooming season is very short. It only takes about two weeks from the opening of the first blossoms until they are falling from the trees. On average the first blossoms in Kyoto open end of March. They reach full bloom around April 5. However, the start of the blooming season can vary by one week (plus/minus) each year. Generally, your best bet is to visit early April, if you’d like to spot them. A great map and table with dates for Kyoto and other cities: JNTO Cherry Blossoms Timetable Tip: The blossoms are illuminated at night, creating a beautiful romantic scenery. If you don’t mind the crowds, visit during the spring illumination.
The leaf changing colors are almost equally beautiful and Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a truly spectacular autumn color spot. Compared to cherry blossoms, the gorgeous leaf colors last much longer: The foliage season in Kyoto lasts from mid-October until mid-December, with a peak in mid-November. Your best bet to spot the beautiful fall foliage is between mid-November and late November. However, any time within the two months is usually worth it. Tip: Like for the cherry blossoms in spring, the fall illumination of the autumn foliage creates a beautiful atmosphere.
Compare Hotel Prices & Tours (Bookmark the Links)
Below you can find weekly hotel deals (+ one special hotel tip at the bottom of this article). You’ll love most of them as the deals are hand picked! For more amazing activities besides Kiyomizu-dera Temple check out these tours: Kyoto Tours in Winter, Spring, Fall, Summer! They are not for everyone but we loved them! Especially the walking tour in a small group (Kyoto Walking Tour Adventure) and the UNESCO Historical Sites Tour. They also have the best guides overall! You’ll get inside knowledge of Kyoto that almost nobody else has. And you can take much better photos at times. Book in advance if possible.
Views and Hike
This is truly a visually stunning place and a must-visit if you’re in Kyoto. It’s at the top of a hill and offers magnificent views into Kyoto, the surrounding forest with cherry and maple tress and the mountains. Inside you must drink from the ‘sacred water’ from the waterfall. There is even a nice hike at the top of the hill if you want to beat the crowds and get into the forest.
How to Get There?
To get to Kiyomizu-dera Temple you can take the bus from Kyoto main station (JR Kyoto Station). Bus lines are 100, 206. Everything is well signposted, you don’t need to know Japanese. The best stop to get off the bus is Kiyomizu-michi. From there it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the temple: Google Maps Kiyomizu-michi >> Temple
From March 2017 until March 2020 the main hall was under renovation work, but still accessible. Even during the renovation work, most visitor say the temple is still worth visiting given its fantastic setting and the atmosphere. A tiny advantage: Sometimes it’s slightly less busy than usual.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple Historic Photo
Where to Stay (via booking.com with price match)
- Kotoha Kiyomizu – Guest House In Kyoto| Outstanding location! Only a 12-14 minutes walk to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Highly recommended. This is what almost every visitor says: ‘Great facilities, comfortable beds, wonderful hosts, excellent value for money and location!’
- More Hotels in Kyoto (Best Selection) | Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select ‘Review Score & Price’.
Links and Tips
- Great Video with Tips and Insights: Ultimate Guide to Kiyomizudera
- Detail information about the city: Kyoto Wikipedia
- Official Website in English: Kiyomizu-dera Temple