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Saihoji temple (Moss temple)

Saihoji temple (Moss temple)Saihoji is a temple of Rinzai Zen Buddhism, and is located at the foot of the mountains in the western suburbs of central Kyoto.
It is located about 8 km west of Kyoto station, and about 3 km south of Arashiyama area.
This temple is one of 17 constructions of "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" designated as a World Heritage Site.

It is said that this temple was founded in the 730s or 740s by high priest Gyoki (668-749), but it is less certain.
The temple had fallen into ruin, but high priest Muso Soseki (1275-1351) rebuilt this temple in 1339.
He was also an excellent planner of garden, then he created a nice Japanese garden in this temple.

This temple had been destroyed by fire by the civil war in 1467, but the buildings were rebuilt in the 16-17th centuries.
Most of current buildings were rebuilt in the 20th century.

After all, the feature of this temple is its moss-covered Japanese garden created by Muso Soseki.
It is designated as a national extraordinary scenic beauty.
So this temple is well-known as "Moss temple" ("Koke-dera" in Japanese) rather than "Saihoji".

There are a few ponds in the site, and the whole grounds around the ponds are covered with mosses completely.
It is said that about 120 kinds of moss are in this garden.
Originally no moss was on the ground, but the mosses have continued to grow since the 19th century in the moderate temperature and humidity.

To visit this temple, we must make a reservation with reply-paid postcard. The postcard is due not later than a week before visiting.
(Address : Saihoji-sanpai gakari, Matsuo-Jingatani-cho Nishikyo-ku Kyoto-shi, 615-8286)
Write visiting date, number of visitors, and your name and address on the postcard.

When you enter the temple, you cannot tour around the garden soon.
First, you must join a religious event.
It is Shakyou (Buddhist sutra writing) or Zazen (Zen sitting meditation).
And you must make more than 3,000 yen donation.

After this, you can enjoy the view of the garden to your heart's content.

How to get to here

By route bus (Kyoto Bus)

By route bus with route No. 73 or 83, about 53-59 minutes from Kyoto station to Kokedera-Suzumushidera terminal stop.

By railroad

Get off at Kami-Katsura station on Hankyu Arashiyama Line. Then about 25 minutes walk from there. (About 1.5 km)




Somon gate of Saihoji
Main temple of Saihoji
In Saihoji
A pond in Saihoji
Grounds covered with moss
Grounds covered with moss

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