Photo of The West Gate of Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, Japan

Weekly Gem #151 A gateway to (meditative) paradise

Published 2/17/2018

Location:  This hidden gem is the entrance (and exit) to the grounds of the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, Japan (see the Clue Me! Map). It's also a hidden gem that thousands of people "miss" every day because they're going somewhere else. We'll explain how to make this gateway to paradise a very nice moment during a visit to Kyoto.

In Weekly Gem #150, we told you about Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara and the awe-inspiring Ryozen Kannon shrine ... and how Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwarhas sacrificed her own transition to enlightenment to share her mercy and compassion with all people. A ten minute walk southeast of Ryozen Kannon brings you to Kiyomizu-dera temple, which is dedicated to the Kannon, and has a Hon Do (the main hall) that is world famous and incredibly impressive.

This isn't about Hon Do, it is about Sai-Mon, the west gate, and how to optimize your visit. It makes sense to see these sites on the same day. The important part is to visit Kiyomizu-dera as the last thing before sundown on a clear day so you can watch the sun set, and you need to arrive at this gate shortly before sunset.

It's all about "Nissokan," meditation on the setting sun. No special knowledge or skill or even experience meditating is required! You simply enter this gate on your way out of the temple, and visualize the Paradise of the Pure Land in the glowing sky as the sun sets ... by doing so, you'll feel an infusion of the compassion and mercy of the Kannon. Now, as you leave the temple behind, you still carry the feelings of compassion and mercy into your daily life and share them widely. 

It sounds like a good way to end a day.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


Approaching a gateway to paradise


The West Gate of Kiyomizu-dera temple

Why It's Interesting

While this location may be seen by tourists as a pretty building on the way to the Kiyomizu-dera temple, this West Gate (Sai-Mon) is a special place in its own right. Having a beautiful view of the sunset, this temple is a 'gateway to paradise.' Nissokan is a simple Buddhist meditation method. By gazing at the setting sun and visualizing the Paradise of the Pure Land in the glowing sky, you can feel the teachings of Kannon (the goddess of mercy).

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