Visiting Kyoto’s Moss Temple is a quest in itself.
It starts with the letter you have to send to the temple to arrange your visit. The monks are still rather fond of good-old regular mail it seems. But don’t fret, it’s all part of the process.
Then comes the response (still by mail), specifying the day and time at which you should present yourself, calligraphic brush in hand. Wait, are we still talking about visiting a garden?
Well, the visit starts with a little ceremony during which you’re suppose to sit on your knees and copy a prayer in Japanese. Nimble fingers and flexible legs are definitely a plus for that step! I actually enjoyed it but I must say my husband went through hell…! Anyway you’re free to leave whenever you want, so don’t panic.
Then it’s time to finally see the garden. The word sanctuary would be more appropriate I think. The whole place is an exercise in elevating the common thing that is moss into something precious and somehow elusive. It makes you wanna lay right above the ground and spy on the dozens of fuzzy miracles that seem to hide in every corner: thick and velvety at times, spotty or rolling like miniature hills at other.
And don’t forget that this green haven is just south of Arashiyama’s bamboo forest, therefore creating a striking contrast between the shadowy green hues of the moss and the pales tones of the light-bathed bamboo forest.____________ The temple is in a rather remote area of Kyoto, so if you wanna get there on time for your scheduled visit, Google itineraries is definitely your friend and will help you find the right bus or train. The request letter can be sent either in English or Japanese, but you have to do it a few weeks before your visit to be sure to secure a spot. We had our travel agency do it to make the quest a little bit easier!