Field of Science

Saiho-ji Temple: The Moss Temple

While in Japan I visited the city of Kyoto and the Saiho-ji Temple. This is a Buddhist Temple that has approximately 120 different species growing on the grounds. Reservations are required and there is a 3000 yen fee, but it is well worth the money.

The mosses were a little crispy, seeing as how I visited during the dry hot part of the summer. I think that this temple would be even better to visit during the rainy season in the spring and earlier summer. I am not quite sure that I saw 120 species of mosses, but they covered all the available surfaces on the grounds.

One of my favorite parts were the grounds keepers who were sweeping the leaves off of the mosses and keeping them tidy. They were using traditional brooms, which I thought was a great touch. I would highly recommend it as a great place to see mosses, if you are ever in Japan. However it is not the place to go collecting. I had the urge to put some of the moss in my pocket, but I thought that would be frowned upon. So I resisted and instead took many photos to remember the visit.

A tree base surrounded by
Leucobryum sp.


  1. I have heared about the Japan moss garden for two years. I want to travel there too!

  2. Just so you know, you have to make reservations in advance to visit this temple. We had to send a post card with information about the day we wanted to come and who we were. They then sent us a card back confirming and we had to bring this with us to the temple. Also this temple was not free. We had to pay about $40US per person. It did include a 30 minute worship service and the grounds were amazing. I think that it was well worth the money. I hope that you have a chance to go.

  3. I will be sure to visit this garden in the future :)

  4. I have a other link for you

  5. I visited the Moss Temple in 1980. Unfortunately I didn't know one moss from another at the time. Still, the place made a huge impression on me.That includes the workers with rakes and pointed hats. When I was in Maine last summer in woods that had nearly all-moss ground cover, I was reminded of Japan. (These woods were part of the Nature Conservancy's land in the Blue Hill peninsula.)
    In 1980 I must have paid about $20 to the Buddhist group that runs the Temple and there was a brief service which as I recall gave us blessings and made us members. Japan has so many gardens I wish I could have visited - anyone going should look them up as well. -Sally


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