Moss temple in Kyoto

stefafra
Joined: 23 Apr 2011
User offline. Last seen 1 year 26 weeks ago.

Hi Maki,
I've browsing your "Just Hungry" site and found the Kyoto trip reportage, it is wonderful, as are the pictures. At the last week of July/beginning of August I'll be in Kyoto for 2 weeks, one for holidays and one for a congress, and I've been browsing around for things to do.
One thing that I would really want to do is to visit the "Moss temple", the Kokedera, I love gardens and moss, and in the heat of summer it sounds like the perfect place to be, quiet and fresh(er).
I found that it is necessary to apply in advance and to have a short "sutra chanting and copying session" and I'm a bit perplex about this part, especially because both me and my partner are agnostic and don't speak any Japanese. Have you been there? Do you think it is worth the effort (and the money) or that we can find other places to visit.
On a more general note, how easy is to go around for tourists that don't speak Japanese in Kyoto? For example I would love to go to a tofu restaurant like the one youtalk about....and as in the first week we are not staying in a hotel, but in a micro-apartment, we can't even ask somebody from the hotel to phone for us to make reservations and so on.
Lots of questions, I know...

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stefafra
Joined: 23 Apr 2011
User offline. Last seen 1 year 26 weeks ago.
Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

As not said, the conference I was going to has just been cancelled and postponed one year, pity that my contract and the one of my partner will be finished at the time of the new date, and we will be in the middle of the usual mess of looking for jobs and trying to sell our house and so on, again.
Our finances does not really allow us to just change the plane ticket, pay back to our institute the money they payed for the conference flight and just go on holiday one week on our money.
Tempting but too expensive.
There goes the trip of my lifetime.....

bronwyncarlisle
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Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
Joined: 12 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 33 weeks ago.
Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

Oh dear. How disappointing for you!

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Bronwyn

My blog is Food and Shoes

maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 6 days 17 hours ago.
Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

I'm so sorry your conference got cancelled! To answer your questions though (in case other people run into this topic) - the Kokedera, whose real name is Saihoji, is definitely worth a visit. You have to trace over a page of Buddhist prayers of sorts when you first get there - tracing over these words (the act is called shakkei) is supposed to let you internalize the words. If you regard it as a cultural experience rather than a religious one, and can stand sitting on the floor for a good 30 to 40 minutes, it's actually quite calming! The gardens are definitely worth a visit - really really impressive. I found an English page with instructions on how to get an invitation thing - http://www.yamasa.org/japan/english/destinations/kyoto/saihoji.html

As for Kyoto, the whole city is very tourist-oriented - It's a town that really depends on tourism (unlike, say Tokyo) - and they love foreign tourists. Most regular people do not speak much English but you can find lots of help. Normally there are many foreign tourists there. I hope you get to go one day!

____________________________________

The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

Here's a blog post that sheds more light on the Kokedera experience for English speaking travelers. It includes information at the end about obtaining permission to visit.

http://www.overahedge.ca/2010/12/meltdown-at-moss-temple.html

kimu
Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

We just recently came back from a visit to Kyoto. This was our second visit to Saiho-ji and they've modified the ceremony portion quite a bit since our first visit. On the first visit, everyone sat at traditional desks on the floor and copied the sutra in kanji. It was a bit daunting! On this visit, they had tables & chairs set up on the temple porch for those who didn't speak Japanese. We waited through the ceremony and then had the option to fill out a stick detailing our goals/wishes, that the priests would later burn. I'm somewhat shocked by the experience detailed in the blog post above. I'm glad that I wasn't there on the same day. The priests and staff at Saiho-ji were friendly, accommodating, and not at all pushing their religion on us at any point, on both visits. In fact, the ceremony made me feel more receptive and ready to see the garden, which is a true marvel. It's a shame that Saiho-ji needed to take these steps to preserve their garden, but after seeing some of the damage at heavily-trafficked sites in Arashiyama, I can't help but feel that they took the right steps. It is a site well worth a visit and truly a wonderful place to visit.

If you'd like to see some photos of both our visits to Saiho-ji, you can see them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimtimnashville/tags/saihoji/

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 6 days 17 hours ago.
Re: Moss temple in Kyoto

If you are going to a religious location I guess it would be rather naive to not expect to be faced with you know, religion. ^_^; I myself am not religious at all, but I really enjoy the history and spiritualism of great religious buildings (cathedrals, temples, monasteries...) I do not feel that I am being forced to convert or anything if I say, am asked to donate to the church and/or buy a candle etc. I feel like I am helping to keep up a place of historical and cultural significance.

The Saihoji experience to me was very nice; other than getting a bad cramp in my foot (being Japanese I felt it was my duty or something to sit on the floor, not at one of the desks ^_^;;) I found it very calming.

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