The One Temple in Kyoto You Can't Miss
I was rather bummed that I wasn't going to have the chance to visit Kyoto's famed moss temple, where in order to visit you had to send a request via postcard and hope for a reply in time for your trip.
I sent my postcard, even using the best broken Japanese I could muster, but recieved word back that they were not accepting visitors at the time of my stay. That was one of the spots I was really looking forward to visiting, but luckily, I continued my research.
Thanks to a few travel forums and some tourists that had the same rotten fate as I did when it came to visiting the moss temple, I found Gioji.
Tucked away at the top of a hill through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest sits this incredible quiet temple, filled with moss that seems to swallow all sound.
According to TripAdvisor reviews, this isn't the most impactful place if you're in a group, and I completely agree. I feel like Gioji was magical and calming because I was solo and could lose myself in its tranquility. When I arrive there were three French-speaking tourists who sped their way through the (admitedly small) garden, and then I was left to myself.
A small thatched roof building is the only structure on the temple grounds, placing your full attention on the moss garden which I desperately wanted to lay down in. Too bad its all roped off to prevent it getting destroyed...
The temple is meant to represent oneness with the universe, and as a solo traveler watching the sunlight move through the maple trees for an hour, I certainly felt that.
There is an admission fee (less than $5) but if you're looking for a quiet, peaceful experience a bit off the beaten path in Kyoto, Gioji is worth it.
Information such as directions and a bit more history can be found on their English website, here.