The ritual of the blue dragon in Kiyomizu temple

The ritual of the blue dragon in Kiyomizu temple

Before Covid-19, Kiyomizu-dera and the approach to the temple were always extremely crowded. When overtourism in Kyoto was often reported, the state of Kiyomizudera was broadcast as a symbol. If the measures against the waterfront are eased and tourists can come to Japan again, Kiyomizu-dera will probably regain its bustle by 2019.

You don't want to go to Kiyomizu temple because it is overcrowded so I don't want to go?

No, I don't want you to say such lonely things. The construction that was carried out due to the covid crisis has just finished, and I would like you to see the Kiyomizu stage at least once, if not many times. There are many other attractions as well. So today I would like to introduce one wonderful event held at Kiyomizu-dera.


Blue Dragon

One of the four gods who protect Kyoto lives in Kiyomizu temple.
When the capital was moved from Heijo-kyo to Heian-kyo in 794, it was believed that living in land that satisfies the conditions in all four directions would lead to long-term prosperity.

North = Genbu High mountains in the background
East = Seiryu Clear stream to the east
South = Suzaku Wide open wetlands
West = white tiger A long road continues

5 times a year, blue dragon visit Kiyomizu temple

Today, September 14, 2022, is the day when the blue dragon comes to Otowa Falls to drink water, which happens only five times a year. With Seiryu (blue dragon) at the head, a group dressed in solemn costumes parades through the precincts and temple town, praying for the protection of the area and for protection from disasters. It's quite powerful when you see it nearby.

By the way, Seiryue is held is every year on these dates.
Every March 14th and 15th, April 3rd, September 14th and 15th around 14:00-15:00
Seiryu walks in the order of “Okunoin → Otowa Falls → West Gate → Monzencho → Niomon → Main Hall”.


Main characters

Blue dragon is said to be the incarnation of Kannon Bodhisattva.
★Dragon men who carry the blue dragon and parade around
★ Meeting Magistrate: The role of supervising and directing the Seiryu-kai
★ Tenhoshu Blows conch shells and leads the group
★Yasha God Dressed like a shrine maiden wearing a mask
★Four Heavenly Kings Standing in front of and behind Seiryu, the gods who protect him

Towards the 14:00 start, I took a position under the stairs of the west gate, which is the highlight!

Starting from Okunoin, Seiryu and his party finally arrived at the West Gate at 14:20.
The men who come down the stairs while blowing conch shells are the men who lift the blue dragon and parade around.
The four gods stood at the four corners of the stairs, and one after another the characters lined up on the stairs.

Blue Dragon finally appears. The 18-meter-long blue dragon is made of linen and Japanese paper, and has scales on the surface.
About 8,000 of them have old sutras on them.
Also, the "blue" in Seiryu does not mean blue, but refers to the green of the forest, and it is said that Seiryu was originally green.

The spectacular blue dragon dance shines in the blue sky.
The power was overwhelming, and I felt like I had received the power of Kannon.

Although the parade around the temple town was canceled this year, Seiryu's party descended from the West Gate, passed through the Niomon Gate, climbed up next to the three-storied pagoda, and disappeared from the Gomon Gate into the precincts.

Again, the Seiryukai is held every year. If you are traveling to Kyoto in March, April, or September, why not come and see this event?


General Information

Event name: Kiyomizu-dera Seiryu-e
Location: Kiyomizu Temple, Higashiyama Ward
Dates (every year): March 14, 2022 (Monday), March 15, 2022 (Tuesday), April 3, 2022 (Sunday), September 14, 2022 (Wednesday), September 2022 15th (Thursday) 14:00-

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