Saiho-ji Temple: A Peaceful Oasis in Kyoto


Kyoto is known for its many beautiful temples and gardens, but few are as serene and peaceful as Saiho-ji Temple. Located in the western part of the city, Saiho-ji is also known as Koke-dera or the Moss Temple, due to the lush green moss that covers its grounds.

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Saiho-ji was founded in the 8th century

Saiho-ji was founded in the 8th century by a powerful aristocrat named Wake no Kiyomaro, who had a vision of creating a place of spiritual peace and tranquility. Over the centuries, the temple has been the site of many important events and has been visited by countless emperors, poets, and scholars.

Today, Saiho-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors come from all over the world to stroll through the temple’s serene gardens, which cover an area of about 6,000 square meters.

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The gardens are divided into several sections

The gardens are divided into several sections, each with its own unique features and design. The main garden is centered around a large pond and features a variety of plants, including cherry trees, maples, and bamboo. The garden’s most famous feature is its stunning moss carpet, which covers the ground like a soft, green blanket.

The temple’s inner garden is even more tranquil and secluded, featuring a small stream and a collection of small, moss-covered hills. The garden is surrounded by a simple wooden fence, which adds to its sense of intimacy and privacy.

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Visitors to Saiho-ji can participate in a traditional Buddhist ritual known as shakyo, which involves copying Buddhist sutras by hand. The temple also offers guided meditation sessions and Zen-style tea ceremonies.

One of the most unique aspects of Saiho-ji is that visitors must make a reservation in advance in order to visit. This is due to the temple’s delicate ecosystem and the need to limit the number of visitors in order to preserve its natural beauty. Visitors are also required to wear traditional Japanese clothing, known as a kimono, which can be rented on site.

Overall, Saiho-ji Temple is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a peaceful and meditative experience in Kyoto. Its lush gardens, serene atmosphere, and rich cultural history make it a truly unforgettable experience.