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Saihoji Temple

Saihoji Temple

Saihoji Temple (西芳寺, Saihoji) is commonly known as Kokedera (苔寺) and is one of designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. Entrance to this temple requires a reservation made well in advance by mail. Kokedera means Moss Temple, referring to the temple garden's estimated 120 different varieties of moss. Visitors to the temple can walk through this spectacular garden, which has strongly influenced subsequent Japanese garden design. Kokedera was originally the site of Prince Shotoku's villa before becoming a temple in the Nara Period. In 1339, the temple was renovated and converted into a Zen temple under the priest Muso Soseki. Muso is also credited with creating Kokedera's gardens. Kokedera offers the unique opportunity for visitors to participate in some of the temple's religious activities.