Located in western Kyoto, Saihoji Temple is a temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.
The Sango (title of the temple) is Mt. Koinzan.
The temple, being covered in moss, is also known as The Moss Temple.
In 731, during the Nara Period, thirteen hundred years ago, at the request of Emperor Shomu, the priest Gyoki founded forty-nine Hosso Sect temples, Saihoji temple being one of them. It is said that before the temple was founded, during the Asuka Period, it was originally one of Prince Shotoku villas.
In the early Heian Period, Kobo Daishi temporarily lived in the temple, but by the Kamakura Period, Honen had made its conversion to a Jodo Sect temple. In 1339, amid the postwar devastation of the times, Muso Kokushi, one of the most highly respected Zen priests in Japan at the time, revived it as a Zen temple, at the invitation of Fujiwara Chikahide (the chief priest of Matsunoo Shrine).
Since then, the temple has been visited by many who were interested in practicing Zazen, including Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and Yoshimasa. It is also said that Saihoji temple was the prototype of temples representative of the Muromachi Period and the model for temples to follow, such as the famous Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion).
The 35,000-square-meter garden is currently listed among the Historic Sites and Places of Scenic Beauty of Japan and was registered in 1994 with UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage as a Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto. Today, from the beautiful moss that covers the area, it is also popularly known as the Moss Temple.
Many Zen temples were founded around seven hundred years ago, during the Kamakura Period, an era famous for the prosperity of Zen Buddhism and its many works of art that have been preserved. However, having been founded in 731, Saihoji temple’s history stretches back over twelve hundred years. It has maintained its prominence, even while housing different sects, and its longevity is rooted in the fascination of those who have visited throughout the many eras.
2020.3.3：”Winter Visit” from January to March in 2020 has ended.
Details on the future plans will be announced around October in 2020.