sagano & arashi-yama area

Saihoji Temple

Take a trip to the Moss Temple

Saihoji Temple, also known as Kokedera, is a historical temple located in Kyoto, japan. It is famous for its beautiful garden filled with lush green moss. The temple was founded in the 14th century by Muso Kokushi, a master gardener who restored an older temple that had fallen into ruin. It is said that the temple grounds were once the site of Prince Shotoku’s villa during the Nara period. Later, it was consecrated as a temple by the famous priest Gyogi.

The garden at Saihoji Temple is a masterpiece of Japanese landscape gardening. It was first opened to the public in 1928 and is now registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The garden features over 120 types of moss, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. The moss-covered ground, rocks, and trees create a unique and mesmerizing scenery that attracts visitors from all over the world.

One of the best times to visit Saihoji Temple is during the rainy season in June when the garden is at its lushest. The rain enhances the vibrant green color of the moss, creating a stunning visual spectacle. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the garden and admire the beauty of nature.

The Karesansui rock garden is another highlight of Saihoji Temple. It is a dry garden that uses rocks, sand, and plants to create a picturesque landscape. The rocks are carefully arranged to represent mountains and the sand is raked in intricate patterns to symbolize flowing water. This minimalist design allows visitors to contemplate the beauty of nature and find inner peace.

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The name Kokedera, which means “Moss Temple” in English, perfectly captures the essence of the garden. The entire garden is covered in different species of moss, giving it a vibrant and ethereal appearance. The moss creates a soft and cushiony ground, providing a unique sensory experience for visitors as they walk through the garden.

The pond in the garden is shaped like the Chinese character for “kokoro,” which can mean both “heart” and “soul” in English. The pond has three islands named Sunrise, Sunset, and Mist, each representing different aspects of nature. The teahouses within the temple grounds are named after Zen koans from the Blue Cliff Record, adding a spiritual element to the overall experience.

To fully immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of Saihoji Temple, it is recommended to participate in a sutra copying workshop. This traditional practice involves transcribing Buddhist scriptures by hand as a form of meditation. It allows participants to cultivate mindfulness and concentration while connecting with the teachings of Buddhism. For more information and to sign up for a workshop, you can visit the temple’s official website.

Getting to Kokedera is relatively easy. The temple is a 20-minute walk from Matsuo Taisha Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. Kyoto is well-connected by train and bus, making it convenient for tourists to visit the temple and explore other attractions in the area.

Saihoji Temple is not only a place of natural beauty but also a significant historical and cultural site. It has witnessed the passage of time and the resilience of Japanese culture. The temple and its garden are a testament to the craftsmanship and creativity of the ancient Japanese people.

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In recent years, Saihoji Temple has gained popularity among tourists, especially those interested in Japanese gardens and traditional culture. It has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique and immersive experience in Japan. The temple offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and find inner peace.

In conclusion, Saihoji Temple, or Kokedera, is a hidden gem in Kyoto that offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of Japanese gardens. Its moss-covered garden, serene atmosphere, and rich history make it a truly special place. Whether you are a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a spiritual seeker, a visit to Saihoji Temple will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. So, plan your trip to Kyoto and don’t miss the opportunity to explore this enchanting temple and its magical moss garden.

Address And Maps Location:

56 Matsuojingatani-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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