Gioji Temple

Kyoto Temples, Gioji Temple, Kyoto 祇王寺

Gioji Temple is a tiny sub-temple of Daikakuji Temple in the western outskirts of Kyoto, located to the north of Arashiyama, in the Sagano district of Kyoto.

Gioji ("ghee-OH-jee") is a small temple of interest in that it is a Buddhist nunnery - with a story. Gioji is all that survives of the formerly huge Ojo-in Temple, founded by the priest Ryochin, a disciple of Honen.

In 1868, at the beginning of the Meiji Period of Japanese history, when many Buddhist temples were reorganized or reduced in size, Gioji became a branch temple of Daikakuji Temple, just over a kilometer away to the north-east.

According to legend, Gio, after whom the temple is named, was a dancer jilted by the noble, Taira-no-Kiyamori in favor of another dancer with the stage name Hotoke Gozen ("Lady Buddha").

Gio then retired here as a nun along with her mother and younger sister, Ginyo. A year later she was also joined by a remorseful Hotoke Gozen, herself in turn now out of favor with Taira-no-Kiyamori. This story, the beautiful mossy compound, the thatched roofs and the serenity are Gioji's biggest charms.

Gioji Temple, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Gioji Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Gioji Temple, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Gioji Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto

Gioji is a Shingon sect temple and appears in the epic Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari) about the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans.

The simple thatched hall and mossy gardens of Gioji are also a popular cherry-blossom viewing spot in Kyoto in spring and for autumn leaves in the fall.

The small thatched hall was donated to the temple in 1895 by Kitagaki Kunimichi, a former governor of Kyoto Prefecture. The building was previously part of the ex-governor's villa.

Gioji Temple, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Gioji Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Gioji Temple, Sagano, Arashiyma, Kyoto.
Moss Garden, Gioji Temple, Sagano, Arashiyama, Kyoto

Gioji Access - how to get to Gioji Temple

From JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, which can be reached from Kyoto Station, Gioji Temple is a 20-minute walk.

Also from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line, allow 20 minutes. From Hankyu Arashiyama Station, it takes around 30 minutes.

By bus take Kyoto city bus #11 from Shijo Kawaramachi Station for about 50 minutes and get off at Saga Elementary School. From here it is about 17 minutes on foot.

From Shijo Omiya take a Kyoto city bus #91 for 30 minutes and get off at the Saga Shakadomae stop and walk 15 minutes.

The #28 bus from Kyoto Station will take 45 minutes depending on traffic and also stops at Hankyu Arashiyama Station. From here it is a further 10 minutes on the bus to the Saga Shakadomae stop.

Nison-in Temple is about 10 minutes on foot from Gioji.

Gioji Temple
32 Kozaka-cho, Sagatoriimoto
Kyoto 616-8435
Tel: 075 861 3574

Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm); admission: 300 yen for adults, 100 yen for school age children.

However, for 600 yen you can buy a ticket to visit both Gioji and nearby Daikakuji (25 minute walk from here and 500 yen to visit by itself.)

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