Although Kiyomizu-dera isn’t actually open at night, you can get pretty close to the entrance for some great night photography. This UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto is a very popular place to visit during daylight hours, but while staying a few blocks away one evening, I noticed a spotlight streaking through the sky in the area of the temple, so I took a walk to investigate…

Visting Kiyomizu-dera at Night

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto at night (HDR Photo)
NIKON D5200 (18mm, f/3.5, 3 sec, ISO100)
Kiyomizu-dera lit up at night (HDR Photo)

Although the temple is closed, you can get quite close. When closed, barriers are put in place at the top of the stairs leading toward the photo above. A few Oji-san security guards were monitoring the entrance just a few metres away, and were watching me closely as I setup my photography gear at the top of the stairs.

This Japan HDR photo is a combination of 5 photos at varying exposures. The buildings were lit with all different coloured lights, changing the way they look compared to during the day.

If you want to get inside the entire temple complex, you’ll need to time your visit well. Special night viewing sessions are held at a few times throughout the year. For details see the official Kiyomizu-dera English website. Look out for the spring special opening nights, to see this historic site at night with cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Structures in this photo:

  • 2 storied tower gate: Niomon 「仁王門」 is the large 2-storied gate in the foreground.
  • West gate: Saimon 「西門」 is the small 1-storied gate in the right of the photo.
  • 3 storied pagoda: Sanjūnotō 「三重塔」 is the 3-storied pagoda (only the top storey can be seen) behind the saimon.

These three buildings are all listed as Important Cultural Properties.

Location of this photo:

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