Kiyomizu-dera on Mount Otowa 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 in the Kansai region dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The circuit runs from the south of Wakayama north to the Sea of Japan. You’ll see pilgrims carrying nokyo-cho—books stamped 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.