Think green, think Saihoji.
Saihoji is nicknamed the Moss Temple, or Kokedera, for its truly magical and mystical moss covered gardens.
At its creation in the 8th century, moss was not on the minds of the designers, who carefully crafted temple gardens in a more conventional style. However, after a mishap involving floods in the Edo period, and a reported lack of funds to clean up properly, moss started to take over.
It was decided that the green stuff looked just fine and it was allowed to flourish. There are said to be over 120 varieties of moss here.
Unfortunately, Kokedera is not open to simply stroll in as most temples and shrines are. You need to make a written application a good week in advance, pay ¥3,000, and when you arrive you will be asked to undertake certain tasks such as meditating or tracing sutras for a short while. After that you have 90 minutes to explore the exquisite gardens. There is also a classically designed stone garden (moss free), one of the most notable examples of its kind, and various pavilions and tea houses.
Saihouji has UNESCO world Heritage status. If you want to visit here, let us know and we’ll get it arranged.