Saihō-ji (Moss Temple) and West Kyoto historical 1 day tour


Visit Saihoji temple, known as a moss temple registered in the UNESCO World Heritage site. An experienced tour guide shows you in the garden of Saihoji temple and other historical sites in Kyoto.


  • Have a break with matcha and explore the garden in Okochi Villa.
  • Walking tour to Saihō-ji, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple!
  • Have a great river and mountain view from Togetsukyo bridge
  • Explore Tenryuji temple, another beautiful garden made by Muso Soseki.
  • Walk through bamboo grove and visit Okochi sanso villa, which owned by a movie star in 20th century.

Key Information

Important Information

Advance booking of 2 weeks to a month is required. The booking starts 2 month before the visit day. Visitor are given access to the grounds for 90 minutes. Before being permitted access to the garden, visitors must engage in an activity, which is called shakyo (hand copying sutras), and chanting sutras. One is then asked to write down one's wish, name, and address. The monks keep all the sutras in the pagoda and continue to pray for all. ※This tour includes reservation from the temple and interpretation of the tour only and the permission fee (3,000 yen/ person as well as tour guide permission) is not included. The tour starts either at 10 am or 1 pm, depending on the temple's condition.


Saihō-ji is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple located in Matsuo, Nishikyō Ward, Kyoto, Japan. The temple, which is famed for its moss garden, is commonly referred to as "Koke-dera", meaning "moss temple", while the formal name is "Kōinzan Saihō-ji". The temple, primarily constructed to honor Amitabha, was first founded by Gyōki and was later restored by Musō Soseki. In 1994, Saihō-ji was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto". Until 1977, Saihō-ji was open to admission to the general public on a walk-up basis, as with other temples. At present, while it is open to the public, a number requirements limit the number of visitors. It is said that these regulations were put into place to protect the delicate moss from the hordes of tourists that plagued the temple before 1977. They prefer for the application to arrive up to 7 working days before the intended visit; there is only one visit per day, with time varying, so time of visit cannot be specified. The fee to visit (¥3,000) is the highest in Kyoto. Visitor are given access to the grounds for 90 minutes. Before being permitted access to the garden, visitors must engage in an activity, which is called shakyo, hand copying sutras. One is then asked to write down one's wish, name, and address. The tour is scheduled as below : Itinerary 1 : 9:30 Meet at Hankyu Kami-Katsura station 10:00 Saihoji 12:00 Lunch in Arashiyama 13:00 Togetsukyo bridge, Tenryuji temple 14:30 Bamboo forest Okochi sanso villa 16:30 End of the tour Itinerary 2 : 8:30 Arashiyama station Tenryuji temple bamboo forest Okochi sanso villa 11:45 Lunch 13:00 Saihoji temple 15:30 End of the tour The itinerary is determined by the reservation time of Saihoji temple. As this is your private tour, the rest of the day other than Saihoji temple can be customized, and please feel free to request us if you would like to visit any specific place in Kyoto. And these below are description of the places which are suggested to visit during the tour. ==Okochi sanso Villa== Okochi Mountain Villa is the villa and garden of samurai film star Denjiro Okochi (1898-1962). The grounds of the villa, located on the slopes of Mt. Ogura, are a traditional Japanese strolling garden that includes a garden, tea houses and shrines. The garden is vast and has a sense of elegance and austere simplicity. Okochi was a well-known pious Buddhist who built the Jibutsudo, a Zen meditation hall. It was said that Okochi wanted to create the perfect garden with everlasting beauty to contrast with beauty captured on film that deteriorates over time. Do you think he felt the end result was perfect? When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target. ~George Fisher == Nonomiya Shrine == Nonomiya Shrine is a Shinto shrine where, in ancient times, unmarried imperial princesses stayed for a year or more to purify themselves afterwhich they were sent to Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture to serve as a representative of the Imperial family. The shrine famously appears in the tenth chapter of the Tale of Genji, a classic work of Japanese literature from the eleventh century and the world's first novel. The black torii (gate) at the entrance of the shrine is an example of the earliest style of torii - unlike later versions, the bark is exposed. It has become a popular destination for young singles who come to pray for marriage. == Tenryuji Temple == Tenryuji Temple, the head quarters of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, is the top-ranked among Kyoto's Five ZenTemples. The shogun Ashikaga Takauji built the temple in 1339 to comfort the spirit of the late Emperor Godaigo who passed away on Mt. Yoshino in Nara prefecture. This temple's garden, designed by the priest Muso Soseki, became the model for all later gardens that incorporate nature as a backdrop for their designs. It features a circular promenade around Sogen Pond, allowing visitors to enjoy the scenery of the garden from a variety of vantage points. == Togetsukyo Bridge == The name "Togetsukyo",meaning "Moon Crossing Over the Bridge", comes from a description of the bridge written by Emperor Kameyama in the 14th century. He wrote that , as the moon traverses the sky , it appears as if the moon is crossing over the bridge. Visitors are enchanted by the picture perfect scenery of the cherry blossoms in spring or the colorful changing leaves in autumn. Togetsukyo Bridge crosses the Oi River, well-known for its beautiful reflection of nearby Arashiyama.. There are popular boat rides around the bridge., and at night you can also witness traditional cormorant fishing, in which retrieves fish from the throats of cormorants. ※Reservation starts 2 month before the visit day and is required 2 weeks in advance. The temple needs a couple of weeks to reply to the booking application. Cherry blossom season, rainy season (mid June to early July) and autumn leaves time are busy time in the temple. ※This tour includes reservation from the temple and interpretation of the tour only, and the permission fee (3,000 yen/ person) is not included.

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