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moss garden

The famous moss garden of Saihō-ji.

The famous moss garden of Saihō-ji.

Saihō-ji is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple located in Matsuo, Nishikyō Ward, Kyoto, Japan. The temple, which is famed for its moss garden, is commonly referred to as “Koke-dera”, meaning “moss temple”, and is also known as “Kōinzan Saihō-ji”.

The famous moss garden of Saihō-ji is situated in the eastern temple grounds.  Located in a grove, the garden is arranged as a circular promenade centered around Golden Pond.  The pond is shaped like the Chinese character for “heart” or “mind” and contains three small islands:  Asahi Island, Yūhi Island, and Kiri Island.  The area around the pond is said to be covered with more than 120 varieties of moss, believed to have started growing after the flooding of the temple grounds in the Edo Period (1603 to 1868).

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