Ryōan-ji (Ryoanji Temple) is the world's most famous Zen stone garden dating back to the 15th Century. Fifteen rocks are ... More
Ryōan-ji (Ryoanji Temple) is the world's most famous Zen stone garden dating back to the 15th Century. Fifteen rocks are arranged in five groups within a walled rectangle of raked white gravel, perhaps representing the ocean or infinity. Color is provided by patches of green moss and the whole design is meant for meditative contemplation and to facilitate a silent conversation with oneself. To best appreciate Ryōan-ji's serene beauty arrive early. The temple grounds also include a large lake-garden.
It is amazing what the monks did with a grain of gold the size of a grain of rice - gilded a tatami-sized carving! When we were there, we helped the laborers clean the area where people wash their hands before going into the temple and that was a very calming experience, too!
I actually love Ryoanji and am there each time I'm in Kyoto. I love to sit down and just stare at the rock garden.
However, for this quintessentially zen location, it is ironic and most of the time it's packed with tourists who shuffle around looking for the best angle to take pictures. Not only is it difficult to find a seat on the "patio", but the sounds of camera shutters and flashes seem to be never ending...
Try to go in the morning if you can.
I went in Autumn and some plants are already dying, if not the ponds should have been much more beautiful.
Well, maybe because I have a 2 yr old toddler who prevent me from concentrating on the rocks, that's why I couldn't "see" anything. Therefore, I felt the heartache spending 500yen just to see the rocks.
Sorry, I just didn't get it. This Zen rock garden just didn't impress me or move me at all. Perhaps it would have been different if the garden wasn't packed with tourists and it wasn't 105 degrees outside.
I absolutely loved these gardens. The pond. The bridges. The mandarin ducks. The temple. The famous "rock garden" known as karesansui - or dry landscape garden. The moss. The bell. The tea offering. The gates.
Get there early in the morning, before students and tourists arive. Be there, sit there. This is all you need to do in order to enjoy.
Ryoan-ji should be one of the top places to see in Kyoto. It is the original - the quintessential rock/gravel garden. The rock garden is mesmerizing and I think could put even the most unmeditative person under a spell, but it's not the only thing to see. The whole site is beautiful with a complex of buildings and tangle of garden.
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