Relaxing moss covered temple full of greenery
The garden of Giou-ji Temple is known as a place to enjoy autumn leaves and its brilliant green moss. In spring and summer, the temple looks even greener as the sunlight filters through the trees. The temple is comparatively new for a temple in Japan as it was established in the early Taisho period (1912 - 1926). The temple was built to enshrine Gio, who was a dancer loved by the military leader of the late Heian period, Taira no Kiyomori. However, she fled to the Sagano area to live with her mother and her young sister after being rejected by Taira no Kiyomori who fell in love with another dancer, Hotoke Gozen. As a result, this temple is also known as the nunnery of blighted love. This tragedy became the tale of Heike. As it’s translated in English, please check it out for details. If you are interested in moss gardens, please stop by when you’re strolling around the Sagano area.
Moss garden
Moss garden
The moss garden is much more incredible than expected! It looks like a fluffy carpet made out of moss and changes the way it looks depending on the angle. The majority of the moss sits around the base of the Japanese cedars, but there are also Japanese maples planted too! When the leaves fall off the maples, the staff leave them as is so that visitors can enjoy a beautiful red carpet of maple leaves.
Hokyoin-to (Pagoda)
Hokyoin-to (Pagoda)
The grave stone that sits on the left side is Gio’s and the other is for Taira no Kiyomori. Both of them were built in the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Pray to these gravestones that these two blighted lovers stay together forever in the heaven.
Yoshino mado (window)
3Good Experiences
Yoshino mado (window)
This kind of round window is called a Yoshino-mado in Japanese architecture. When the Shoji (Japanese sliding door) in front the window is closed, a rainbow of colors will shine on the Shoji as it reflects the sunlight. The checkered patterns are made with bamboos. Please also take the opportunity to get a glimpse of the green scenery through the window!
Manner & Tips
- Manner & Tips -
Please do not step on the moss. 
3.1 experience3.5 access2.3 photogenic3.5
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
3.0 experience3.5 access2.5 photogenic3.0
Located some distance away from the busy Arashiyama Station is a very tranquil temple. It has a moss covered garden and a large bamboo forest by it. The greenery makes you feel happy and relaxed. In fall, it is an excellent place to see the autumn leaves. The fallen leaves covering the ground like a red carpet are so beautiful! Although its location is a bit remote, it is still worth coming here to enjoy the scenery.
3.2 experience3.5 access2.0 photogenic4.0
Gio-ji Temple is famous for their moss garden. This small hermitage is surrounded by bamboo and maple trees. This place is a bit far from the center of Arashiyama, but it is also named in The Tale of the Heike, so I'm sure this place can be enjoyed especially by those interested in history.
3.8 experience4.0 access3.0 photogenic4.5
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
3.8 experience4.0 access3.0 photogenic4.5
Gio-ji Temple / 祇王寺
Category Temples & Shrines, Japanese Gardens
Phone +81 75-861-3574
Address 32 Kozakacho, Sagatoriimoto, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8435
Directions 20-minute walk from Keifuku Line Arashiyama Stn. 20-minute walk from Sagano Line Saga-arashiyama Stn.
Open Hours 9am - 5pm (Admission ends at 4:30pm)
Reservations Not accepted
Closed Open everyday (TBA if the temple is closed)
Price range
Adult ¥300 Child (Primary,junior high school and high school students) ¥100
Credit cards Not accepted
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
An English brochure is available at the entrance.
Information Japanese, English
Lanuages spoken Japanese only
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