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HAVING A STROLL "SAIHO-JI"

"Saiho-ji (西芳寺)" 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"
"Saiho-ji (西芳寺)" 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" (苔寺,
"Koke-dera"?), meaning "moss temple", and is also known as "Kōinzan Saihō-ji". The temple, primarily constructed to honor Amitabha, was first founded by Gyōki, and was later restored by Musō Soseki. In 1994, Saihō-ji was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto".

According to temple legend, Saihō-ji was constructed during the Nara Period by Gyōki, on the location of one of Prince Shotoku's former retreats. The temple first operated as a Hosso temple dedicated to Amitabha, and was known as "Saiho-ji", a homophone of the current name. The name was selected because Amitabha is the primary buddha of Western Paradise, known in Japanese as "Saiho Jodo" (西方浄土).
 
Legend states that such famous Japanese monks as Kukai and Honen later served as the chief priests of the temple. Although the veracity of these legends is questionable, it is believed that such a predecessor to the current temple did, in fact, exist.
By T. Satoh on 31 Jul., 2008
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