Kyoto: Gioji Temple in Arashiyama

This is a very unusual temple – it is more like a secret garden. It is a little bit tucked away and might not be THE temple to visit according to your guide book, but it is very unusual with the moss garden, quiet and peaceful.

Gioji Temple in Arashiyama 1

The temple is named for Gio, a dancer from long ago who fell in love with Taira no Kiyomori, a famous military leader. When he ended their relationship, Gio retreated to this temple to spend the rest of her life as a Buddhist priestess, along with her sister, mother and another of Kiyomori’s spurned lovers.

Gioji Temple in Arashiyama 2

Gioji used to be a huge Buddhist temple, but in 1868 was abandoned and dilapidated. It survived as a tiny nunnery.

Gioji Temple in Arashiyama 3

It is very beautiful and definitely worth a visit – apparently even more so in autumn, when the colours of the leaves turned red. I’ve seen a few pictures of this tiny temple in October and it looked fabulous too.

Gioji Temple in Arashiyama 4


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