The temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were
constructed in 1633. It takes its name from the waterfall within the
complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water.
The main hall has a veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. The popular expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge". This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13 m jump from the stage, one's wish would be granted. Two hundred and thirty-four jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited.
Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond. Visitors to the temple collect the water, which is believed to have therapeutic properties, from the waterfall. It is said that drinking the water of the three streams confers wisdom, health, and longevity. However, some Japanese believe that you must choose only two — if you are greedy and drink from all three, you invite misfortune upon yourself.
Rear view of Pagoda and adjacent building
The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches". Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of "love stones" placed 18 meters apart, which lonely visitors attempt to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone, eyes closed, is taken as a presage that the pilgrim will find love. One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that an intermediary will be needed. The person's romantic interest can assist them as well.
The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes). The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially New Year's and obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs, among other things, and the crowds are immense.