Gio-ji was an active temple from the Heian period (794-1185) to the Kamakura period (1185-1333) and was a famous nunnery that appeared in "The Tale of the Heike", a story that chronicles the glory and downfall of the Heike family. During the Heian period, Honen Shonin’s disciple Ryochin founded the temple here in the precinct of the Ojo-in temple. Ojo-in was a very prominent temple at first but fell into ruin and only the nunnery remained. Later in 1868 it was rebuilt and became part of the Saga Imperial Palace Daikakuji.
It is a small temple surrounded by bamboo forest and fresh green moss, and when autumn comes the leaves cover the ground like a carpet, creating a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. In some parts there are "Yoshino Windows" which create interplay between shadow and light to create rainbows, and are sometimes called rainbow windows. There is also a bamboo garden nearby and a rest area where you can enjoy sweets and green tea.
Gio-ji and the Tale of the Heike
The name Gio-ji is derived from the shirabyoshi that appears in the Tale of the Heike, Gio. A shirabyoshi is a female entertainer who engages in song and dance. Gio received the favor of the master carpenter of the Heike, Taira no Kiyomori, but he later fell in love with another shirabyoshi, Hotoke-Gozen, and Gio, her sister, and mother left and entered a nunnery which became present day Gio-ji temple. Later, Kiyomori fell out of love with Hotoke-Gozen, and she too joined the nunnery. The main hall was rebuilt in 1895, and in addition to the Buddha here there are also images of the 4 ladies, and Kiyomori. Nearby are also located memorials to Gio, her sister, and her mother, as well as the memorial tower for Taira no Kiyomori
It is a 20min walk from JR Saga Arashiyama Station (嵯峨嵐山駅), from the Keifuku Railway’s Arashiyama Station (嵐山駅) it is a 20min walk. By bus you can use the city bus or Kyoto bus station Saga Shakadou (嵯峨釈迦堂前) and walk 15 minutes there, or you can get off at the Saga Shougakko stop (嵯峨小学校前) and walk 17 minutes.
Please note that there are common admission tickets available for Gio-ji and Daikaku-ji, normally entrance is 800 yen but becomes 600 yen this way. There is a 25-minute journey between the temples, and also maps in 4 languages.
Image Gallery: Gio-ji Temple
Description: Gio-ji Temple
|Sights||Gio-ji Temple (祇王寺)|
32 Sagatoriimoto Kozakacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8435, Japan
|Phone / Fax||Phone: 075-861-3574|
Monday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Tuesday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Wednesday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Thursday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Friday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Saturday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
Sunday:09:00-17:00 (Last entry by: 16:30)
|Closed dates||7 days open|
|Admission Fee||Pay admission: 300yen|
Spring (March - May)Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
|Recommended target||Family Couples Groups Infant & Toddler (ages 0-6) Child (ages 7-17) Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller|