Monday, January 9, 2012

Moss temple

One more activity we did in December was a visit to the Moss temple (Saihō-ji). You have to apply in advance to visit, as they limit the people who can go to keep crowds down.  Sharon got tickets for us and we visited.  Also, you must be 18 or older to go, so the kids went to school and we went to the temple.

When you arrive, you first attend a zen chant "service."  I believe that you are supposed to be transcribing something too (its described that way online and in guidebooks), but we didn't do that. We listened to the chants by a head monk and 2 other people that lasted about 15 or 20 minutes along with prayer bowls, a wooden percussion instrument.  We did write our wishes and prayers on wooden prayer sticks, and we all knelt and put the prayer sticks on the altar.

After, we had 90 minutes to wander around in a big circle.  It is astonishingly old, it had fallen into disrepair by the early 1300s!  Later, it became a principle Zen monastery. From what I understand, the first traditional Japanese gardens and bridges were here, and this garden and temple is the basis for all that followed. There are tens (hundreds?) of types of moss here, all overgrowing everything.  Its quite amazing. The forest is a carpet of green moss.  All the japanese tourists were taking closeups of the moss.  It was a lot to take in.

Here are some pictures.
these bridges are all covered with moss

This lake is in the shape of the chinese character for "heart" or "mind" (kokoro 心) (though it wasn't clear to me)

the moss doesn't really photograph well; its everywhere

There were still autumn leaves; you can see the green carpet and the red carpet from the maple trees.  So beautiful.  It was like you were inside a green world.

here is a great shot of the green and red carpet; apparently they sweep up the leaves with hand brushes

this is a man-made "stone waterfall" sculpture at the highest point of the garden

steps coming back down to the start


  1. Wendy is the photographer! It really is beautiful.