Saihoji Temple

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Koke-dera | Kyoto's Moss Temple

Koke-dera | Kyoto's Moss Temple

Saihoji, more commonly known as Koke-dera (moss temple), is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It was founded by Gyoki, a Japanese Buddhist priest of the Nara period to honor Amitabha, a celestial Buddha. When the temple was first built, the moss that Saihoji is known for was not part of the plan. The temple was initially covered in white sand, and moss only formed when the temple was unable to upkeep the garden in its ideal condition. Today the temple is estimated to have approximately 120 kinds of moss and is included among the list of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Visitors wishing to enter the temple must make a reservation in advance. All visitors must pay the entrance fee and then are asked to participate in the observances of kito (reciting Buddhist scriptures) and shakyo (copying Buddhist scriptures). Kito and shakyo may take approximately an hour to complete but the monks will guide you through the observances. After these observances are complete, visitors can enjoy the temple grounds of Koke-dera. Be sure to visit the Shonan Tei tea room, a large room built by Senjoan, the second son of Sen no Rikyu. There is also the upper garden Katsuyama and the lower garden Ikeizumi to enjoy on the temple grounds. Famous innovator Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, often visited Saikyoji temple with his family when traveling to Japan. Enjoy strolling through the gardens and admiring the moss of Saihoji Temple.

If you'd like to visit Saihoji during your vacation with Japan Deluxe Tours, we can help make the necessary arrangements to explore this charming moss temple. Please keep in mind, the temple does require advanced reservations so we may not be able to secure this excursion when you book your Japan tour.


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