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PARKHOTEL MONDSCHEIN

A Rich Cultural History Combined with a Refined Design Aesthetic at this Modern Luxe Hotel

FUFU KYOTO

An Intimate Luxury Hotel that Entwines Traditional Japanese Dining, Architecture and Hospitality with Modern Elegance

JACQUEMUS PARIS

A Pure Interior Led By Playfulness and Surprise

The Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre

The Charred-Brick 'Black Box' Presenting The Beauty Of Theatre & Performance

GAIA

British Artist Luke Jerram’s Explores The Vastness of Our Earth

Honouring ISSEY MIYAKE

The Legacy Remains: Merging Art & Fashion, East & West, Tradition & Technical Innovation

UNITED PLACES BOTANIC GARDENS

Local and Luxurious, A Melbourne Boutique Hotel That Gets It Right

Naoshima Ryokan ROKA

Designed by Okayama-based studio Nottuo, a New Modern Stay on Japan’s ‘Art Island’

Restaurang ÄNG

NORM Architects Creates A Light-Filled Glasshouse For The Michelin-Starred Restaurant

JAPANESE CRAFTSMANSHIP: BAMBOO WEAVING

In The Quiet Backstreets Of Kyoto's South Higashiya, Find A Master Craftsman

HOMME PLISSÉ ISSEY MIYAKE SS23

As Ever, The Joy Of Movement & Ease of Pleats Prevails

Serpentine Pavilion 2022

Artist Theaster Gates Designs the 21st Pavilion

BRUT-AL

Argentinian-Australian Designer Alexander Lotersztain's Ode to Brutalism

Serpentine Pavilions 2000-2021

A Champ Online Retrospective Of Two Decades of The Radical Architectural Event

PURE FORM

The Art Gallery of South Australia Presents Japan's Avant-Garde Ceramics

KABIRA & KANGRI

The Beauty Of Indian Textile Craftsmanship In ISSEY MIYAKE Sub-Brand HaaT's SS22 Collection

SAIHO-JI

We Discover Kyoto's Famed Moss Garden, A Unesco World Heritage Site & Notoriously Difficult To Visit

March, 2022
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel

Kyoto’s Moss Temple, known as Saiho-ji (西芳寺, Saihōji) or Koke-dera (苔寺) is a one of Japan’s most spectacular spaces, even earning a title as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built on the site of an ancient temple reaching over 1,000 years, Saiho-ji Temple was restored and made into a Zen temple in 1339 by the monk Muso Soseki, said to have also initiated the upper garden area. Known for its extensive moss garden that features over 120 varieties of moss, Saiho-ji’s garden features a large pond notably shaped in the Japanese kanji character of ‘heart’, with the diverse lichen and moss blanketing the entire garden floor. From dense and richly green layered moss, to sponge and cushion-like moss, including Polytrichum and several other bryophyte species. The meticulous maintenance includes a closed winter season, to even pruning shrubs to resemble lumpy mounds or cushions. During my visit, one temple staff mentioned the garden’s biggest challenge was to prevent any descruction from wild boars — from digging holes to foraging and eating the moss too. 

Although the garden is undeniably spectacular, one of the most contemplative elements during is in fact experienced immediately upon entering the temple, during the sutra copying. At Saiho-ji, every visitor is invited to contribute to the observances of kito and shakyo (respectively, the chanting and copying of Buddhist scriptures, called sutra). Inside the temple and crossing both legs on the carpeted floor at one of the low temple tables, visitors copy the sutra over a sheet of tracing paper with a provided paper and pen. The process is meditative and pensive, offering a pause to absorb the moment and century-old surroundings. When complete, visitors then move towards the garden area following a route that leads around the main pond and traditional timber dwellings. 

Formerly, visitors to Saiho-ji were required to send a reservation request to the temple by postcard. Not only a traditional process, but it aided in limiting the amount of visitors, in order to allow the moss to regenerate accordingly. Now however, guests are able to reserve a booking online — however due to its unique location, it still remains a unique destination if you’re ever lucky to get to visit.

Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel
Saiho-ji, Kyoto, Japan © JK / Champ Travel

Saihō-ji
56 Matsuojingatanicho,
Nishikyo Ward 615-8286
Kyoto, Japan

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March, 2022