The Shingon Buddhism nunnery Gioji is usually absent in popular guide book or your must visited list of temples around the ancient Kyoto. It is quite easy to understand cause Gioji has a week voice among big ones playing as important headquarters or leading temples of various Buddhist sects or, among giant temples in the literal sense. More than these things, Gioji is compared with a secret garden in the deep west area of Kyoto. Hiding itself behind the luxuriant wood, Gioji is an unusual beauty, owning one of the most magnificent and peaceful mossy garden as well as the most splendid scene of autumn red leaves.
Gioji used to have a glory history as a huge Buddhist temple before being abandoned to dilapidated in 1868. The original great temple was built inside the ground of Ojoin temple founded by the founder of Jodo-shu sect of Buddhism Ryochin, a disciple of priest Honen. When Gioji was abandoned in 1868, all its statues and graves were moved to be under observation of the great Daikakuji temple. This gradually became a worry of the head priest of Daikakuji then he started to talk about the plan to reconstruct Gioji. Later in 1895, the retired governor of Kyoto Prefecture donated a building belonging to his villa for Gioji reconstruction. The building now becomes the main hall of Gioji while Gioji lives as a tiny nunnery as well as a sub-temple of Daikakuji.
There is a legend about the name Gio as it was named after a dancer falling in love with the great military leader Taira no Kiyomori however, she just only saw his back turning on her. The heartless Kiyomori left her because of Hotoke-Gozen, an other beautiful dancer. Gio, instead of love before, fell into hopeless. She spent the rest of her life staying at the temple with her sister, mother and then, Hotoke-Gozen herself as she could not stand for the heartlessness of Kiyomori. At that time, Gio was 21 years old and Hotoke-Gozen was 17. Gioji warmed the two innocent and injured hearts up by the healing cover of the vibrant green forest of bamboo and dazzling red maple trees.
Gioji has a small structure which allows you to see around in a short time. However, it will take more as your heart gets the sweet emotion when you stand in front of the thatched gate with thatched fence on both sides smelled old. Floating on the mossy ocean, there are little lanterns of different material, from stone to iron. The thatched building in the middle of the mossy garden houses various wooden statues of Taira-no-Kiyomori and the principal Buddhist image of Dainichi Nyorai. There is also a gorin-to stone known as stupa of 5 elements representing earth, water, fire, wind and air staying as the grave of Taira-no-Kiyomori. In the rest part of Gioji, Hokyoin enshrines Gio and Ginyo by a stone pagoda with ear-shaped roof.
From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last admission at 4:30 pm
Take Kyoto City Bus No.28 or Kyoto Bus No.71 from Kyoto station bound for Daikakuji to Saga-Shakado-Mae stop then take a 15 minute walk.