Kiyomizudera in Kyoto

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Flat land suitable for farming has always been scarce in Japan.  So Japanese temples and shrines are frequently located on hillsides and mountaintops.  This is just one of the many sets of stairs that visitors climbe to reach Kiyomizudera. High on Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera commands a sweeping view of Kyoto.  Each year the temple complex draws millions of visitors from around the world.  The mighty wooden supports are one of its most recognizable architectural wonders. Before entering a Shinto shrine, visitors wash their hands and mouths as a sign of purifying themselves.  Dragons are a frequent part of the fountains at shrine entrances.  The dragon is the Guardian of the East.  In Buddhism, the dragon represents enlightenment. We visited on a Saturday along with many school groups.  A teacher photographs a group of junior high school girls beside the "Love Rock."  Ancient legends held that a woman who walked blindfolded from this rock to another about fifty feet away would find love and her true mate. Our darling Sachiyo enthusiastically donned a blindfold (and with a little verbal guidance) reached the second rock.  She drew a crowd of onlookers who cheered her efforts.  She hopes for good luck soon. You could also buy charms to help you make a good marriage.  But don't be cheap!  For 500 yen (about $5) you get luck in finding love and 1,000 yen will give you a better chance of finding love.  The person very serious about their relationship will spend 2,000 yen to bind their love tightly. Both Steve and Helen were fascinated by this wooden statue of the Lucky God Daikokuten.  He is standing on two bales of rice, signifying wealth.  His shrine was right beside the two "Love Rocks." To the right, worshippers are ringing a bell to call attention to their prayers.  Below them is a box for donations.  This photo gives a better view of the crystal that Daikokuten holds in his hands. Now the close-up shows how the crystal repeats the bright lanterns that line the entrance to Daikokuten's shrine.  The great weather made it easy to take fascinating photos. The temple was founded in the 8th century on the site of a sacred spring.  It is now diverted into three streams where visitors can sip the cooling water and gain the blessings of the guardian god, Fudo. Silent Buddhist monks can still be seen, quietly praying and offering their cup for donations.  This monk stood in a shady area not far from the main entrance to Kiyomizudera which originally was a Shinto Shrine.  In the 8th century, many Buddhist temples were built next to Shinto Shrines. There are two shopping streets that lead up to Kiyomizudera.  We walked up one and walked down the other.  Japanese children wear masks at many of the summer festivals.  This shop had such a wide variety of characters, from Baka Tono, the crazy daimyo from a Japanese comedy TV program, to the Buddha himself - in your choice of silver or gold.