Kyoto – Moss Temple

On my last trip to Kyoto, we only stayed one night and wished we had more time. This time I’m so glad I was there for 3 days, but I still feel like there is so much more to see and do. Today was our last day in Kyoto and we were really excited about our visit to Saihoji temple (also known as Kokedera or the Moss Temple).

Kokedera is a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of many locations that make up the History Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. The temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens covered in an estimated 120 varieties of moss. To visit the temple we had to apply in writing (with a self-addressed and stamped postcard for the reply, or in the case of international visitors, enclosed with an International Reply Coupon) and wait for a written reply advising us when our appointment at the temple is.

Room for writing the zen exercise and chanting

I had read that prior to being able to walk through the gardens we would have to participate in a session of chanting and a zen exercise of writing/tracing a mantra in Japanese. However when we went didn’t have to trace a mantra, but just write our name, address and a wish on a small balsa wood plaque to then present in front of a shrine. I think maybe they’ve made the exercise a little easier for those who cannot write Japanese? Although that’s only a guess. Also don’t worry, you don’t need to chant along with the monks, however we were given a copy of the chant in case you want to try to follow it.

Fish in the pond

The gardens were amazing. A lush green wonderland and you feel like you’ve been transported to a secret garden. We were there in winter and everything was still green, but I suspect that in the spring the gardens would be even more spectacular.

Can you count all the moss?

Boat on the pond

Pathway through the moss

Today was the last day Serena would be with us on our #DirtyNotThirty trip. After a beautiful afternoon at the moss temple we headed back to Osaka, stopping on the way for a quick lunch and some food window shopping. We saw jugs of parfait and parfaits with whole slices of cake on top!

Dessert jug anyone?

Or maybe you'd like a side of cake with your dessert?

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