Death Defying Leap


The practice is now banned, but, during the Edo Period, to fulfill a wish, people would jump off the veranda of the Kiyomizudera Temple.

If they lived, their wish would be granted. 85% survived the 40-foot fall.  As we stood below the terrace, even with the construction scaffolding in place, we imagined the plunge and thought that survival rate an astoundingly high number.  However, jumping off verandas is not why we came to Kiyomizudera Temple, although visiting the temple did fulfill a wish we had.


Kyoto is home to thousands of temples and shrines.  Before exploring here, we had no idea.  How could we possibly narrow down and choose which of those temples and shrines to see?  It wasn’t easy. We let proximity make the selection for us.

We like to take walks every day, so we decided to give priority to those temples and shrines within our walking range.  That narrowed our choices but not enough.  To reach a reasonable number for our visit, we gave preference to UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Kiyomizudera Temple made the final list and had the added benefit that walking there and back would be through the scenic Gion District.

The Buddhist temple was founded in 778, but the structure that is currently standing dates back “only” to 1633.


The massive structure of timbers that constitute the main hall and veranda were built with no nails.


Otowa Waterfall provides visitors a chance to drink from its waters with wooden cups on handles. The waters, many believe, bestow longevity, academic success, and love depending on from which stream you drink.


One of many buildings in the Temple complex.


Most of the statues had red bibs. This may be interpreted as fending off demons and illness or as prayers for babies who have died.

We meandered the crowded lanes through the temple grounds on a very hot and humid day.  Over heated and under hydrated, we made our way to a little shop that sold flavored shaved ice.  We think our flavor was cherry.  We know it was very cold.

With the sun getting low in the sky, we walked to Yasaka (Gion) Shrine and spent time mostly people watching.  A short distance past the Shrine, we turned down a narrow lane of small houses, lit by lanterns and small lamps.  The street was blessedly quiet.  A plaque posted there marked the street as a “special preservation area for traditional buildings”.  We took our last few photos of the day in the dim light of day’s end.   Cameras put away, we strolled home under city lights.


September 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Japan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Death Defying Leap

  1. Pingback: Photographers (everywhere) around the world | simpletravelourway

  2. B says:

    Eighty-five percent? They must be using a very technical definition of the term “survived the fall”.

Tell us what you think, please.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.