Green + Eco-Travel

Green Retreats

by Stephen Anderton

The garden: Saiho-ji

A tree grows in: Kyoto, Japan

First planted: 14th century

Roots: For most Western gardeners, choosing which of the many possible plants to use is a bit like an orgy in a telephone booth: You don't know where to start, and you don't know when to stop. But in the East, gardeners really know how to exercise restraint with a capital "R"—and many a Westerner finds it a blessed relief. Gardens, in fact, are one of Kyoto's strongest draws, and its famous Ryoan-ji, work with just raked gravel, stones, and a few clipped evergreens—a minimalist approach you might call taking restraint a little too far. Saiho-ji is softer, a garden of just greens and grays, of tree trunks, mosses, trickling or still water, reflections, and, for a couple of weeks, the flare of maple leaves. Nothing to arouse the passions, but everything to calm the soul.

Saiho-ji
Tel: 81 75 391 3631
Visits by appointment only; for details, read our review in the Kyoto guide

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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