Photo: Narongsak Nagadhana/DreamstimeKyoto's Kiyomizudera temple in autumn

Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera Temple is open till late for two special light-ups this autumn

See the iconic hill-top temple in a whole new light after sunset

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

A few times a year, the breathtaking Kiyozumi-dera Temple that overlooks Kyoto city hosts special nighttime visits, where the temple’s structures and surrounding foliage are illuminated for a mesmerising display. The Buddhist temple, which is over 1,200 years old, is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site known collectively as the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

The temple's seasonal light-up events occur every spring, summer and autumn. This year, however, the temple is squeezing in one extra nighttime event to raise awareness for breast cancer. From September 30 to October 23, Kiyomizu-dera will host an illumination event in collaboration with Estée Lauder, where the temple will be lit in pink from 7pm to 10pm every night.

On Saturday October 1, the temple will also hold a nighttime prayer and memorial service in honour of the lives lost to breast cancer. The service will start at 7.20pm (last entry 9pm) and admission will be free of charge. 

Meanwhile, the annual autumn light-up event is scheduled to run from November 18 to November 30. While Kiyomizu-dera usually opens from 6am and closes at 6pm, it will extend its hours until 9.30pm (last entry 9pm) for the duration of the event, so visitors will have more time to appreciate the beauty of the temple and its scenery after dark. 

In addition to the illumination across the temple grounds and Jojuin garden, Kiyozumi-dera will also shine a bright blue beam into the night sky to symbolise the compassion of Kannon, the goddess of mercy enshrined at the temple. 

There is a general admission fee of ¥400 for adults and ¥200 for children. 

Not sure if you’ll be able to make it to Kyoto in time for autumn? While tourists hoping to visit Japan currently need to book their trips through a travel agency and obtain a visa, the government is set to ease border restrictions as early as October. In the new plan for reopening Japan to independent travellers, the government is expected to scrap the daily entry cap and allow tourists to enter the country without a visa. Watch this space for more updates. 

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