Personal Space

Kyoto with Teenagers – Part 3 (Kiyomizu-Dera)

(Read Parts 1 and 2)

Kiyomizu-Dera is a Buddhist temple located in eastern Kyoto. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto.

The uphill pedestrian paths leading up to the temple are a part of the charm this temple has to offer. In fact, some of the most “quintessentially Kyoto” Kodak moments can be had on these paths. They are lined with souvenir shops selling mochi confections, Hello-Kitty key chains, traditional silk crafts and chinaware, as well as tiny cafes offering Kakigori (shaved ice) and soft serve. In fact, my teenagers were handily trapped well before they reached the temple by one of the tourist-trap cafes for some Kakigori.

The temple itself is also a huge tourist trap.

Calling this temple “a major tourist trap” does not in any way diminish its historic significance, cultural charm or religious importance. In fact, temples and shrines have always been the focus of tourism in Japan well before the modern tourism began. And as one of the most popular tourist traps in the most important tourist destination in Japan, Kiyomizu-Dera delivers – gorgeous views, spiritual routines, 100 yen fortunes, 500 yen charms, and deck-side cafes.

Many Japanese regard themselves as spiritual while not necessarily tied to any one specific religion. They simultaneously take advantage of various belief frameworks offered by different religions. The birth and healthy growth of children are often celebrated in the Shinto framework, while the majority of Japanese receive Buddhist funerals and burials. Meanwhile, the moral is taught overwhelmingly in the Buddhism-Shintoism-Confucianism hybrid context. So, in the typical Japanese manner, my teenagers and I tossed some yens into the offer box (Osaisenbako) and gave some hybrid thoughts.


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