In the 2005 film, Memoirs of a Geisha, a majority of the filming took place in California, however, there were a few scenes that were actually filmed in Japan. One such location was the famous Kyomizu Temple or Kyomizu Dera, located in eastern Kyoto.
The temple was founded in 778 and takes its names from the waterfall located within the complex (Kyomizu translates to pure water). The buildings you see today were constructed in 1633 by the order of Tokugawa Iemitzu, who ruled from 1623 to 1651. He was known for enacting the Sakoku Edict of 1639, which closed off Japan to foreigners. Disobeying these edicts was punishable by death and it wasn’t until the 1850s that Japan once again opened its ports to foreigners.
An interesting fact about the temple complex is that not a single nail was used to construct the various structures. The main hall of the complex has a large veranda supported by tall pillars and it juts out over the hillside offering visitors breathtaking views of the city below. Below the main hall is the Otowa Waterfall. Water from this fall is believed to have wish granting powers.
The temple complex incorporates several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine dedicated to the god of love. There are a pair of love stones located at this shrine, which visitors who successfully walk between them with their eyes closed are granted their wish of finding love.
Other structures on the temple grounds include the Okunoin Hall, which resembles the main structure, but on a smaller scale and includes a viewing stage as well. The three-storied Koyasu Pagoda is located in the far southern end of the temple grounds and is often visited by expectant mothers praying for an easy and safe childbirth.
The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are countless shops and restaurants surrounding the temple, which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims over the years and are worth visiting.