sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

This quiet temple was named for the Heian-era shirabyōshi (traditional dancer) Giō, who committed herself here as a nun at age 21 after her romance ended with Taira-no-Kiyomori, the commander of the Heike clan. She was usurped in Kiyomori’s affections by a fellow entertainer, Hotoke Gozen (who later deserted Kiyomori to join Giō at the temple). Enshrined in the main hall are five wooden statues: these are Giō, Hotoke Gozen, Kiyomori and Giō’s mother and sister (who were also nuns at the temple).

The main attraction here is the lush moss garden outside the thatch-roofed hall of the temple. It’s a small spot that is often overlooked by visitors to Arashiyama.