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 Gyōki. Though it is popular for its moss garden, as it is called Koke-dera (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 Sairaidou (main hall, * in Japanese 「西来堂」, Hondō 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.

During the period, in the Sairaidou (main hall), visitors can see 104 full-scale fusuma (sliding screen) paintings by Inshō Dōmoto, including those that are not usually open to the public. Zazen (sitting meditation) will also be offered at designated locations.

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 Sairaidou (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 Sairaidou, 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, Musō Kokushi, despite having converted from a Jōdo 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.
Inshō Dōmoto 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 Inshō 's groundbreaking works that aimed to break with tradition, surrounded by the various expressions decorated in the main hall.

Fusuma (sliding screen) Painting Artist: Inshō Dōmoto

Inshō Dōmoto (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, Inshō 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 see here for details on pre-registration.

Date and times Please see the following schedule:
*Open days are indicated by the green ●.
*Admission is available between 1 pm and 2 pm. The temple gate closes at 3 pm. saihoji schedule
Fee 3,000 JPY per person (Cash only)
All visitors must be at least 12 years old or older from the visit on June 1st, 2019.
*Please refrain from bringing children younger than elementary school. This includes infants.
Visit details Visitors are taken to the Sairaidou (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.


From January 14 (Tue) to March 5 (Thu), 2020, we guide visitors to the Hondō (main hall)
without visiting the garden as the period for "Winter Visit" at this temple.
Please see here for details. We appreciate your understanding.

@Akira Nakata