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“Interesting temple visit unlike others!!!”
Review of Saihoji Temple

Saihoji Temple
Ranked #92 of 1,382 things to do in Kyoto
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Reviewed 4 June 2017 via mobile

Saihoji temple is famous for its lovely Moss Garden. But, for me it should be famous for its mandatory Buddha Scripture copying for each visiting guest. The temple is opened daily once for a fixed number of visitors. Anyone interested to visit, needs to send a postcard to the temple with your request of visit with details of name, number in the party and date of visit. The temple will then send a post card 'admission permit'. On the day of the visit, each guest is to finish copying a Buddha Scripture before visiting the garden. The copying of the Buddha Scripture is a blessing gesture.

1  Thank Seok Ting C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (222)
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"moss garden"
in 31 reviews
"an invitation"
in 6 reviews
"heart sutra"
in 3 reviews
"concierge service"
in 2 reviews
"entry process"
in 2 reviews
"effort involved"
in 2 reviews
"prayer service"
in 2 reviews
"hotel mume"
in 2 reviews
"post card"
in 3 reviews
"minute bus ride"
in 2 reviews
"entry fee"
in 4 reviews
"yen per person"
in 3 reviews
"soba noodles"
in 2 reviews
"well worth the effort"
in 2 reviews
"main hall"
in 2 reviews
"copying"
in 15 reviews
"chanting"
in 19 reviews
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13 - 17 of 222 reviews

Reviewed 20 May 2017 via mobile

I have to admit the admission application process is tedious. I asked my local friend for help with sending in postcards and ask for availability. That is the reason I cannot give this attraction a five.
Doors were open about 20 minutes before appointment time. After checking in at the entrance, I proceeded to pay the admission fee. I was then got given a copy of the heart sutra which I copied or retraced at the main hall. A lot of people rushed through this but there was really no need to rush. No one would come to kick any of us out if unfinished. After that, I would dedicate it to the Kannon in the main hall. Again this is completely voluntary. Then I exited to the main garden. There are many different types of moss in the temple ground. It was raining when I arrived. The ground was in lush green. Relaxing and quiet. The rocks could be slippery when wet. It took me a good 2 hours to go around once, taking photos along the way. Budget time accordingly.

3  Thank singinggigi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 March 2017 via mobile

Months before we set foot on Kyoto, we heeded all good advice and sought paid help to obtain invitations for this mysterious and beautiful temple with moss covered grounds. (Just search: help for saihoji reservation )

And when we arrived in Kyoto, as promised, with our concierge, there was an envolope with our desired pass to Saihoji for 19 Mar 17 at 1pm.

We took a 20 minute bus ride for 230yen each, from the picturesque bank of the Oi River, just next to the Togetsukyō Bridge. While waiting for the bus, we savoured an overpriced Kobe Beef bun (600yen) from the kiosk across the road.

We arrived promptly and saw a disappointed couple being turned away at the Saihoji gate. We silently patted ourselves on our back for doing our homework. Back to twisted mix of curiosity and dread for the hour of chanting and calligraphy...

It's hard to describe the feeling when we DIDN'T have to copy the scripture before being allowed to enter the garden! We observed the chanting and were told to write our wish on a tiny tablet. Everyone streamed out into the garden, as if released from detention. We were disbelieving, perhaps even reluctant, that our entry fee of yen3000 omitted the rigorous prequel we wound ourselves up for. Could we still enjoy the gardens as much?

The gardens were pristine, perfect. We let the 40 pax crowd trudge ahead of us so that we could breathe in the silence that the moss and monks feed on. The mid day sun sketched, unsteadily, shadows of the trees onto the pond's surface. A lone carp weaved beneath the surface of this virtual maze.

Just before arriving at the bus terminal, we stopped for some soba noodle and then hopped onto service 62 back to hustle and bustle of Arashiyama.

4  Thank SGCouple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2017

In order to protect the garden, years ago they began limiting the number of visitors. You must write to the garden to request permission and a reservation to enter the garden. There is a concierge service in Japan that we contacted, and for a nominal fee, they took care of requesting permission for us to attend. We provided our Kyoto hotel's address as our return address, and the hotel graciously kept our post card on hand until our arrival. You can reach the concierge service at desk@goodsfromjapan.com

The fee to enter the garden is 3000 yen per person. The garden is lovely to see. You'll get the chance to attend a prayer service, and then you'll be asked to write your wish and name on a wooden prayer stick. Then you'll have an opportunity to stroll the garden. It's a delightful experience and feels a bit off the beaten path. It's definitely worth it for the effort involved in getting there.

3  Thank Cliff S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 March 2017

While not easy to get access to, this temple is the one I would keep if I had to chose one from my trip in Kyoto.
I used an online service to ask for an invitation (and used the ryokan I was staying at as the recipient address since it has to be in Japan).
The temple is quite far from everything. It requires a subway ride of 30 minutes or so from Kyoto main station, and you can add a 20 min walk to get to the temple.
Monks are checking your invitations and then the visit begins.
First, a caligraphy session. There is a mass for the group of 40 people you're in, and then you have to copy a prayer with a "feather" and ink, and you have to do a wish at the end of it.
Warning, if you're not used to sitting on your knees with your bottom touching your heels, it becomes hard to find a comfortable position. They had seats for aged/handicaped people though. The session lasted 40 minutes for me, but I was slow and took time to copy all of the characters, but you're not obliged to.

After that, you can walk freely in the temple park. The feeling you get by walking there is amazing. Panels, well integrated with the setting, tells you more about the temple. Everyone is naturally silent to respect the harmony that reigns in this place. Beautiful nature, pictures I took of it don't do it justice. The different shades of green mixed with the trees and the pond feels a bit like a magical place.

The hassle to get to there is well worth the visit, and even the rain I had couldn't spoil it. Really one of the highlight of my trip to Japan.

3  Thank Nisildur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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