Kyoto Temples, Gioji Temple, Kyoto 祇王寺
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.
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 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.
32 Kozaka-cho, Sagatoriimoto
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.)