Since Mr. Selfish and I were in Kyoto for three weeks, we wanted to visit some of the more obscure and difficult sights. The most expensive and most difficult to get into sight in Kyoto is the Moss Temple, which is also known as Saihoji Temple or Kokedera. Admission costs a whopping 3,000 yen (~$30 USD).
You can only visit the Moss Temple by mailing a special reply postcard requesting a reservation at least 7 days in advance. Your postcard should indicate: (1) your name and address, (2) the number of people in your party, and (3) the date(s) on which you are available to visit the temple. Your postcard should also include a stamped and self-addressed postcard, which the temple will return to you with your scheduled date and time. In Japan, you can request this type of special reply postcard at the post office; it is known as ofuku hagaki. The Moss temple’s address is: Saihoji Temple, 56 Jingatani-cho, Matsuo, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 615-8286, Japan.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t even the most difficult part of the Moss Temple. After paying the steep admission, you sit at a low desk on the ground and are required to copy a sutra prior to entering the moss garden. During the copying, there is monk chanting, which I found quite soothing. After you finish copying the sutra, you write your name, address, and a wish to the left of the paper. Then, you take the sutra paper up to the altar and go into the moss garden. The monks keep all of the sutras and are supposed to pray for everyone’s wishes.
I was finished with my sutra quite a bit faster than Mr. Selfish, who took about 50 minutes to finish. I started wandering around the moss garden, which was very nice but a little crowded.
I waited around for Mr. Selfish toward the end, and then we went back and walked through the moss garden again. This time, it was mostly empty. The garden was quite lush and apparently has over 120 different types of moss. It was quite serene and beautiful. Mr. Selfish, however, didn’t appreciate all of the hoops through which we had to jump to get into the Moss Temple.
The Moss Temple was certainly difficult to get into. However, I didn’t mind the reservation system or the copying of the sutra. I did find the admission of 3,000 yen to be a bit high. If you do visit the Moss Temple, I suggest that you take your time copying the sutra and wait until the crowd has mostly dispersed prior to entering the moss garden.