Formally known as Koinzan Saiho-ji, or Saihoji for short, this Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple is located in Matsuo in the western part of the Kyoto city area. With over 120 varieties of moss present in the two-tiered garden, the temple is often referred to as kokedera, meaning “moss temple.”

In 1994, Saiho-ji was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto. It is open to the general public in small groups on a reservations-only basis via a return-postcard system.

Visitors will learn about the history of Koke-Dera, participate in Zen meditation, chant sutras with the monks and other guests, then finally write their name, address, and prayer on a small rectangular wooden plank. 

The pond in the center of the garden is shaped like the kanji character for “heart” or “mind” (心, kokoro), and filled with the clearest water you will ever see. 

(You can read the rest of this article at this link. This article was first published on Apr 4, 2019, on JAPAN Forward, who aim to reveal the true face of Japan to the English speaking world in areas ranging from politics to sports and pop culture.)

Name: Kokedera Temple/Saihoji, Kyoto (map link)

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