Koke-dera (Saiho-ji)


Museums & Sights

Recommended Major venue


This major league attraction doesn’t make things easy for visitors. You’ll need to apply in advance p12), pay ¥3,000 and then spend an hour copying sutras by hand before being allowed to view the famous moss gardens of this Zen temple. It’s worth it. There are two gardens: one is the oldest dry garden in Japan and the template for the dry gardens at Kinkaku-ji and Tenryu-ji; the other is a stroll garden with a pond in the shape of the Chinese character for ‘heart’. Both are blanketed with more than a hundred varieties of moss. Zen monk and legendary landscape architect Muso Soseki designed the gardens, although he never planned for them to be green. It was only in the mid 19th-century that temple funds were too low to main--tain the garden and the moss swept the grounds. The fairytale landscape looks its best in June during the rainy season.

Kyoto Shortlist

Review updated October 2009


56 Jingatani-cho, Matsuo, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto

Transport Bus 29.

Telephone 075 391 3631

Admission Admission ¥3,000 (by appointment only).

Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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