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Moss Temple (Saihou-ji)

苔寺(西芳寺)

The site where Saiho-ji temple stands today was the site of a villa of Prince Shotoku-taishi in the Asuka era and where is said that a statue of “Amida Nyorai” made by him was enshrined. Saiho-ji temple was converted to a temple from a villa in the Nara era by priest Gyoki and was originally a temple of the Hoso sect of Buddhism. ”Saiho-ji” is an appropriate name for a temple dedicated to Amida Nyorai, the head of the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, and it was converted to the Jōdo sect by Honen in the Kamakura era where the main deity was made into a gold mud. The famous gardener, Muso Soseki, built famous temple called Rokuon-ji temple (Kinkaku-ji temple, Golden Pavilion) on the model of Saiho-ji temple. Jisho-ji temple (Ginkaku-ji temple, Silver Pavilion) was built on the model of both Saiho-ji temple and Rokuon-ji temple. It was from the late Edo era that the garden was covered with beautiful moss. The temple has been closed to the general public since July 1977, and advance application is required to participate in the religious events of sutra reading and sutra copying.

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