Date: 5 April 2016
As I had bought the combination ticket for Daikaku-ji and Gioji at Daikaku-ji earlier, the next stop was Gioji. I chose to walk, which would take 20 to 25 minutes, as confirmed by the staff at Daikaku-ji. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the Daikaku-ji bus stop to the Toriimoto bus stop. Though, if you were to take a bus, I strongly recommend (if the Nenbutsuji temples are in your wishlist) to head to these temples first, then to Gioji.
Having skipped breakfast (again), I looked out for eateries to fill my hungry stomach and had curry rice at a small yoshoku cafe along the way.
Gioji is a nunnery of the Shingon sect and the only surviving part of a once large temple – Ojo-in, founded by Honen’s disciple, Ryochin. Honen was the founder of Jodo-shu, a branch of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan.
The temple is named after Gio, a dancer who was disregarded by Taira-no-Kiyomori (leader of the famous samurai clan Taira during the Heian period) who was infatuated with another dancer – Hotoke Gozen. Gio became a nun at what is Gioji today, along with her sister and mother, and was also joined by Hotoke Gozen later, who experienced the same fate as Gio. This story is part of Heike Monogatari, which depicts the conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans.
Gioji is famous for its moss garden and its thatched building. Though the area is small, this place is recommended for those with a love for moss garden like me.
There are also small bamboo forests and tea house around the temple.
Gioji is also famous for its autumn colors, which I have yet to see. If you are sightseeing around Arashiyama, consider stopping by this temple and be awed by its beauty.