Winter Visit

@Akira Nakata

What is Zen?

The path of Zen is long and demanding.
But it is definitely rewarding, no words to express it.

Why don't we face yourself in the tranquil Zen temple?

The cool and crisp air of winter may help you clear your mind even more.

Winter Visit

Saihoji Temple is one of the five oldest temples in Kyoto, founded about 1,300 years ago by Gyoki. Though it is popular for its moss garden, as it is called The Moss Temple, it is said that the various mosses began growing only 200 years ago in the late Edo period. Though it is called Moss Temple, we want you to find not only the moss attractions but also the winter attractions of the Zen temple.

Therefore, during the winter season, we dare to close the garden and take you just to the Sairaido main hall, * in Japanese 「西来堂」, Hondo is also called this way), hope you find the new attraction. Closing the garden for this "Winter Visit" is also important to "give rest" to the garden, and is necessary for its maintenance and management.

On the day of "Winter Visit", you will be asked to enter from the "So-mon" which will open for a limited time. The approach, which is closed to the public until the beginning of "Winter Visit", is surrounded by a supple towering cedar grove and a solid earthen wall.And a quiet and tense time passes.At the Sairaido (main hall), you can see 104 full-scale fusuma (sliding screen) paintings surrounding Amida Nyorai. Most of this masterpiece by Domoto Insho, a great painter of the Showa era, is usually closed to the public. Changing from the old-fashioned atmosphere of the approach, it boasts a glittering mood. It will welcome you with great energy.

We hope that visitors will enjoy their time in the clear air of Saihoji Temple, away from the hustle and bustle of their busy, day-to-day lives.

Gasshō (prayer)
Saihoji Temple

The Saihoji Temple Main Hall

The Sairaido (main hall) was destroyed during the Onin War, and was rebuilt 500 years later in 1969. Built with Bishu (Aichi Prefecture) hinoki (cypress), the building encapsulates the architecture of two time periods: the exterior is built in the Shinden-zukuri style of the Heian Period, while the interior is built in the Shoin-zukuri style of the Kamakura Period. The reconstruction took three years and three months, and involved 7,000 workers. In order to stay true to the traditional architecture, the building techniques of the times were utilized and recreated.

On the other hand, on fusuma (sliding screen) of Sairaido, there are richly colored abstract paintings, which are very rare for Zen temples. They create vivacious and majestic environment. The wonderful harmony created by the serenity of the main hall and the dynamism of the fusuma paintings make you feel the temple's history and culture which having been preserved traditions and accepted anything which holds value.

The Amida triad of a main figure (Amida Sanzon statues) stand as the main objects of worship. Revered Priest, Muso Kokushi, despite having converted from a Jodo sect to Rinzai Zen sect , preserved the Amida Sanzon statues in this Zen temple honoring its history when restoring it in 1339.


The Fusuma
(sliding screen)
Paintings in Saihoji
Main Hall

There are 104 paintings on seven different motifs.
Domoto Insho created the fusuma paintings right before the age of 80, spending two years on the concept and one year for the production. It was his biggest fusuma paintings work. Please take the time to enjoy Insho's groundbreaking works that aimed to break with tradition, surrounded by the various expressions decorated in the main hall.

Fusuma (sliding screen) Painting Artist: Domoto Insho

Domoto Insho (1891-1975) was an artist who had been active in the art circles of Kyoto from the Taisho to Showa period. Though he had initially wanted to become a Japanese style painter, after World War Ⅱ, he actively exposed himself to Western cultures and began working on sketches and oil paintings.

Not limiting himself to expressions from his own experiences, Insho dedicated his life to always explore forms of expression that surpassed the present situation, and finally established a form of abstract expression that he called, "Shin zokei (new modeling)".



Pre-registration is required for visiting Saihoji Temple.
Please seehere for details on pre-registration.

Span From January 21, 2023 (Sat) to February 27, 2023 (Tue).
*We are going to close from January 10 (Tue) to January 20 (Fri), and from February 28 (Tue) to March 2 (Thu) due to the replacement of fusuma (sliding screen) paintings.
Date and times Please see the schedule from here.
The entry time varies depending on the day.
We will not open on days when there is nothing on the schedule calendar.

*There is no waiting area, so please arrive on time indicated on the admission card we will send you.
*Please click here for more information on worship until January 9 (Mon) and after March 3 (Fri).
Fee 3,000 JPY per person (Cash only)
All visitors must be at least 12 years old or older from the visit.
*Please refrain from bringing children younger than elementary school. This includes infants.
Visit details The location of the entrance gate is different from other seasons. Please look for the signboard near the gate.
Visitors are taken to theSairaidou(main hall), which contains the 104 fusuma (sliding screen) paintings that are usually not open to the public. Additionally, there are places for those who wish to experience simple Zazen (sitting meditation).
*The garden will be closed for viewing and shakyo (copying sutra) is not available.

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.

@Akira Nakata