News from JNTO

Verdant Beauty: Japanese Moss Gardens


 

Ask anyone who has experienced the rainy season in Japan what's the best thing about it, and they'll likely give you a long stare and then…"Nothing." For sure, it's not the most refreshing of seasons. But wait! Moss!

Moss is the one good thing about the rainy season. Not the kind that grows on your walls, or on the food from last night. We're talking about the lush, luxurious moss gardens of Japan. Losing yourself for a while in the green, hushed, velvety looking carpet that seems to glow depending on how the sunlight hits will surely improve your mood.

Here are a few of Japan's exquisite moss gardens.

Saiho-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Saiho-ji Temple (also known as Koke-dera, or Moss Temple) is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple located in Kyoto. Famous for its moss garden, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. The temple, while it has gardens that go back centuries, is renowned for the moss garden which is relatively new: the moss crept in and spread (there is said to be more than 120 varieties in the garden), albeit at a snail's pace, during a period of neglect and disrepair after flooding in the Edo period. Please note that reservations are required, and other restrictions apply.

For more information, please visit here.


 

Sanzen-in Temple (Kyoto)

Founded in Kyoto by the monk Saicho who was related to the imperial family, Sanzen-in is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. A large complex made up of many buildings and gardens, the moss garden contains the oldest building of the complex, which is home to the most treasured piece of art in the temple, a statue of Amida Buddha.

For more information, please visit here.


 

Heisen-ji Hakusan Shrine (Fukui)

Built by the grand monk Daicho in 717, it served as the headquarters of the Hakusan religion in this region. Now it is the National Historic Site, its stone walkways, moss paths and ancient cedar trees create an air of tranquility and enchantment.

For more information, please visit here.


 

Gio-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Also located in Kyoto, Gio-ji has an intimate feel to it, being much smaller than Saiho-ji and some of the others. A Shingon Buddhist nunnery, it is mentioned in the Tale of the Heike's telling of tragic story of two women who, unhappy in love, decided to enter a nunnery, the present day Gio-ji.

For more information, please visit here.


 


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