Temples & Shrines: Ryoanji Temple Kyoto
Ryoanji Temple 龍安寺
Ryoanji Temple houses the most famous Zen rock garden in Japan arranged in the kare-sansui (dry landscape) style. Founded in 1450 by Katsumoto Hosokawa, the temple grounds also include an interesting wooded garden and pond. There is an admission fee to enter the main stone garden.
The site of Ryoanji Temple was originally the family estate of the Fujiwara clan.
Ryoanji is famous above all for its karesansui (dry landscape) rock garden built in the Soami style. The garden is composed of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered boulders of different sizes.
It is said that only 14 of these can be seen from any one place in the temple. Until one attains enlightenment, the fifteenth boulder remains unseen. The whole walled garden can in fact be seen as a koan or Zen riddle, hiding its meaning from view.
Less well known is the garden to the left of the entrance which dates from the 12th century and was originally the site of a villa of a noble of the Fujiwara clan. Almost southeast Asian in appearance, it is worth a stroll around the pond.
The enigmatic stone garden at Ryoanji Temple in western Kyoto has become one of the city's most popular tourist attractions
Ryoanji is as iconic as Mt Fuji in Japan
Ryoanji's garden is viewed from the wooden alcove of the head priest's former residence known as the Hojo, which also has decorated fusama sliding doors along its tatami floors and some other small interior gardens.
Bus #59 from Keihan Sanjo Station or Ryoan-ji Station on the Keifuku Kitano Line from Kitano Hakubaicho station.
13 Ryoanji Goryonoshita-cho
Ryoanji is close to a number of other Kyoto temples in the area. These include Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Toji-in Temple and Ninnaji Temple all of which can be seen in half a day of temple viewing. The Insho Domoto Museum and Ritsumeikan's Peace Museum are also very close.
The attractive outer garden at Ryoanji Temple seen covered in snow
Ponder the meaning of existence in the stone garden of Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto