Giō-ji

Buddhist Temple in Arashiyama & Sagano

This tiny temple near the north end of the main Arashiyama sightseeing route is one of Kyoto's hidden gems. Its main attraction is the lush moss garden outside the thatch-roofed hall of the temple. Giō-ji 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).

Giō-ji is also known for its autumn-foliage displays.


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