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Kiyomizudera is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a place that appears in every sequence of Japanese travel photos. The landscape is all cherry trees and forest; it is among Kyoto's loveliest spots. The current structure dates to 1633, and is one of 33 temples on a pilgrimage circuit dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, that runs from the bottom of the peninsula near Wakayama to the Sea of Japan. You’ll see pilgrims carrying nokyo-cho—notebooks to record the visit—and monks busily inscribing in calligraphy. The temple, set against a steep hill and constructed on huge pilings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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