Gio-ji temple in Sagano, Kyoto

Gio-ji, a Shingon Buddhism nunnery, has a small thatched building and an equally small moss garden.The size allows you to see the whole temple in a few minutes but still you may be able to feel "the Sagano" here. The garden is beautiful especially in late Autumn when the leaves turn brilliant red.

In the thatched building are wooden statues of heroins of a story related to the temple and the chief of the then most powerful Heike clan, Taira-no-Kiyomori (1118-1181) as well as the principal Buddhist image.


Gio-ji was built in the precinct of Ojo-in temple that was founded by Ryochin who was a disciple of priest Honen, the founder of Jodo-shu sect of Buddhism. The huge temple was dilapidated before long and the present day Gio-ji survived as a tiny nunnery.

In the year 1868, the temple was abandoned and Daikaku-ji took custody of graves and wooden statues of Gio-ji. The head priest of Daikaku-ji lamented over the situation and planned reconstruction of the temple. In the year 1895, Kitagaki Kunimichi, an ex-governor of Kyoto Prefecture, donated one of buildings of his villa that is the present day hall of Gio-ji. Gio-ji is now a sub-temple of Daikaku-ji and belongs to Shingon Buddhism.

In Heike-monogatari (the Tale of the Heike), there is a story that is related to this temple. A Shirabyoshi dancer Gio was loved by Taira-no-Kiyomori but was jilted when he was enslaved by the beauty of another Shirabyoshi, Hotoke-Gozen. Gio, her sister Ginyo and their mother Toji left Kiyomori and after all they entered a nunnery that was present day Gio-ji. Then, Hotoke-Gozen joined them as she knew that she would be eventually jilted also by heartless Kiyomori. It was when Gio was 21 years old and Hotoke-Gozen was 17. The four women lived here remainder of their life.

How to get to Gio-ji

  • 49 minutes from Kyoto station to Saga-Shakado-Mae on Kyoto City Bus No. 28 or Kyoto Bus No. 71 and 15 minutes on foot. Both buses are bound for Daikaku-ji.
  • 10 minutes' walk from Nison-in temple.

Hours and Admission


500 yen

Common Ticket for Daikaku-ji and Gio-ji: 600 yen

Photos / Pictures

Click on a photo for a larger image.

The entrance of Gio-ji The thatched gate The moss garden
The entrance.
February 16, 2008
The thatched gate that is not being used.
June 16, 2007
The moss garden
February 16, 2008
Ishidoro, a stone lantern Iron lantern A fountain
Ishidoro, a stone lantern.
February 16, 2008
Iron lantern.
February 16, 2008
A fountain.
February 16, 2008
The garden and the building in Autumn The thatched roof and autumn leaves The building with moss on its thatched roof
The garden and the building of the temple in Autumn.
November 24, 2002
The thatched roof and autumn leaves.
November 24, 2002
The building with moss on its thatched roof.
November 17, 2001