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西芳寺Saihoji Temple

  • World Heritages
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Arashiyama / Kinkaku-ji Temple Area
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Arashiyama / Kinkaku-ji Temple Area
56, Matsuo Jingatanicho, Nishikyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 615-8286, Japan
  • World Heritages
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
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Date of post:2015/04/23

A Buddhist temple famous for its garden covered with beautiful moss One of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Popularly known as Moss Temple, this temple has a beautiful garden which is completely covered by beautiful moss which includes around 120 species. The garden has 2 styles. A stroll-type landscape garden with “心” (shin -- literally means mind) shaped pond in the middle and a dry landscape garden. The total size of the garden is about 30,000m2 (35880yd2). With limited visitors at a time you can enjoy the beautiful garden quietly and your heart will be happy.

The temple was originally built in the 8th century, but after being destroyed by battles it was abandoned for centuries. In 1339, it was restored and converted into a Zen temple by monk Muso Soseki. It was him, who designed this beautiful garden. The Zen temple buildings built by him were also lost during the civil war, but the moss-covered landscape garden remained. The garden was regarded the earliest and finest example of Japanese stroll-along the pond style garden. This garden style exerted a great influence on later garden designs.

Before entering the garden, there is a ritual to recite the Wisdom Sutras and write your wish on a holy stick in the main hall of the temple. On sliding doors of the hall, pictures were drawn by the modern Japanese artist named Domoto Insho. The holy sticks are burnt later so that your wish will reach the Buddha’s Place and be granted. It will take about 20 to 30 minutes to finish these rites. Now, put your shoes on and go out in the garden. A person in charge will give you a brief explanation about the garden (in Japanese). But don’t worry, the temple lends you head phones if you like.

Smoking is prohibited in the garden and but smoking area is available.

In the vicinity of Saihoji temple, there is a so-called bell cricket temple, bamboo temple, a pottery museum, Tsukiyomi Shrine and Matsuo shrine. The famous Arashiyama is also in the neighborhood. This is a nice place to spend a day.

To get a permission of this temple, you should ask for the availability of the day of your visit by mail one week to 60days before. Write your name, address, the hopeful date (you can enter up to 3 different dates) and the number of visitors. The temple will decide the date, time of your visit and reply you. If your trip is organized by a travel agency, they will do this on behalf of you.

Entrance Fee: ¥3,000(JPY)

*References: Kokedera home page
Japanese Identities by Yuichiro Edagawa

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