Jan 26, 2015

Kyoto - Spring Illuminations

During cherry blossom season, several locations around Kyoto stay open at night and the buildings and trees are illuminated for all to enjoy.

We had a few hours before nightfall, so we spent some time walking around the Higashiyama District of eastern Kyoto.

We found a nice spot in Maruyama Park and people-watched. It was quite amusing watching some of the cherry blossom revelers, who couldn't seem to hold their liquor and nearly fell into the pond. 

We started making our way to our first illumination site: Kiyomizudera. The path leading to the temple is along a steep street that is lined with traditional wooden buildings that serve as shops and restaurants. 

It is hard to tell but the street made for quite a strenuous walk it was on such an incline! 

We finally arrived at the temple and the walk was worth it. Just look at these views!

Kiyomizudera means "Pure Water Temple" and derives its name from the Otowa Waterfall, which is located on this site. 

The temple is also known for its large wooden stage that is accessible from the temple's main hall. It is from here that we and other visitors were able to get such marvelous photos of the spring blooms. 

The waterfall is located at the base of the main hall, so we ventured down there to drink from its streams, which is supposed to be good luck!

Next we headed to Kodai-ji, another temple participating in the spring illumination. While Kiyomizudera is a vast complex, Kodai-ji is smaller in scale, but its interiors are decorated in beautiful accents. Sadly, photos were not allowed of the inside. 

The temple also features Zen gardens which surround the temple buildings and, of course, were lit up for the occasion.

There were even some multimedia art displays being projected onto the huge gravel rock garden.

My favorite part of Kodai-ji was the bamboo grove in the back. The illumination made for a pleasant stroll through the grove.

When ended our spring illumination viewing at one of the largest cherry blossom trees in Japan, which is located near Maruyama Park.

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