Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
Okinawa City, Japan
September 18, 2008
From journal Peace in a Big City
April 2, 2007
Ryoan-ji is a Buddhist temple famous for its Zen rock garden, built in the 15th century. Although the rock garden may be the main attraction, the temple grounds are beautiful, especially during the cherry blossom time or during Fall.
After purchasing your ticket, you'll follow a path along the grounds. There's a lake with a small boat and a little island with a small shrine. There are many cherry trees with beautiful blossoms in spring. There is also different kinds of moss covering the trees and ground.
The path leads up to the main temple which contains the rock garden. The garden is composed of raked gravel and fifteen rocks. From every angle except one, only fourteen rocks can be seen. You are allowed to sit in front of the garden and contemplate to your heart's content. The Buddhists want you to come to your own conclusion about the garden and what it means to you. They don't tell you what you should see.
Ryoan-ji is another popular temple that is best visited in the morning, before the crowds hit. It opens at 9am and this is when you'll find the fewest people. Having less people there allows you the best atmosphere for meditation or deep thought.
Although staring at rocks may not sound like a great time, if you're in the right mental state then it can be an exhilarating experience. The wonderfully landscaped grounds can help bring this about. Be sure to come here with a calm mind.
From journal Kyoto's Imperial Charms
March 31, 2007
Ryoanji Temple lies in the north-western region of Tokyo (in Ukyo-ku), somewhat removed from the central Kyoto area. The most convenient way to get to the temple is by bus, with the bus stop just a couple of feets away from the temple entrance. It can be hard to miss since there is an unassuming and small rock path leading into Ryoanji's main gate. Ryoanji Temple is famous for its simple Zen-inspired rock garden. The garden is housed within "Kuri", the temple's main building. The small rectangular garden consists of only 15 rocks laid out on patch of symmetrically-raked gravel (no trees, no plants). It does not live-up to its hype upon first glance because the garden is just about 20 meters long. But as you sit there and try to wonder why the rocks were placed in such a way, you start realizing the peacefulness that surrounds the temple.
This Zen garden is simple, almost barren, but the longer you sit and the longer you stare, the more you will feel relaxed and refreshed. Walk around the main building to the back and you will see a simple stone basin with water trickling into it, and with the Japanese inscription "I learn only to be contented". The basin is surrounded by trees and a small water pond, and again, nothing ornate but very simple and peaceful. Walk around the grounds of Ryoanji and you will enjoy the temple's peacefulness.
The tree-surrounded gravel trail within the temple will lead you into smaller temple structures, a pagoda, and smaller tree and flower gardens (especially beautiful during spring-time when all the cherry and peach blossoms are blooming). There is also a lily-pad pond with occasional sightings of ducks. The temple and its grounds can be walked at a leisurely pace at about 1 to 1.5 hours. I suggest getting there when it opens (8/8:30am) so you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the garden and temple's Zen-inspired environment.
From journal Tales from the Old Capital - Kyoto
September 10, 2006
From journal Kyoto - Beautiful Beyond Belief
by Shannon Schiner
August 19, 2004
Continuing along the pathway and then up some stairs, you reach the actual building that has the garden. Built in the 15th century, the garden consists only of walls, raked gravel and 15 medium-to-large rocks. It seems quite small, only 30 meters long and maybe 10 meters across. A fascinating aspect is that no matter which angle you view the garden from, you can only see 14 rocks. There are a variety of theories regarding why the garden is so simple, one of the main theories says that it was influenced by the tea ceremony, which also relies on simplicity.
Leaving the rock garden and going out on to a covered walkway, the next most striking feature is a stone water basin that is very low to the ground. It is surrounded by a series of Japanese characters, which essentially refer to knowledge, an important concept of Zen. This temple is extremely pleasant to visit, even in the heat of the summer, because the trees offer plenty of shade.
From journal Sites of Kyoto
by Avid Traveler
December 10, 2003
From journal Autumn in Kyoto
Los Gatos, California
November 24, 2003
From journal The Other Half of Our Dream Vacation
August 6, 2002
The walled rock garden has a rectangular perimeter, with trees acting as a natural backdrop. There are fifteen stones of various sizes and shapes arranged into several clusters amongst a pit of whitish raked sand (the number "15" represents completeness in Buddhism). Some of the stones are covered by a bit of green moss. The stones have been placed in such a way that it is impossible (except by overhead view) to see all fifteen stones at one time, as one may be "hiding" behind another from certain vantage points. It is believed that the rock garden is a "riddle" created by the Zen masters to test and enlighten their students. It is like a Zen Rorschach test to see what the garden means to you and what it appears to represent to you. For the standard viewer, this all looks like just a bunch of rocks, but it is still interesting to enter the Zen thought process just a wee bit.
The main building of the temple is called the Kuri, which plays second fiddle to the dry garden. Look for the Tsukubai, a stone water basin inscribed with a significant Zen thought: "I learn only to be contented". The accompanying lake-garden is called Kyoyochi Pond and actually dates back to the 12th Century in one form or another. There is a small restaurant next to the pond.
From journal Bill in Japan - traditional KYOTO
July 11, 2001
Upon entering Ryoan-ji, you notice a large pond to the left. We visited in early April, and were amply rewarded by sights of majestic cherry trees, in full blossoms, with laden branches gracefully giving offerings to the water beneath. Through the branches, one can glimpse turtles and swans languorously sunning on the rocks. Most visitors pass by this pond fairly quickly, heading straight for the dry landscape garden. However, many flora and fauna can be discovered around this lake if you wish to.
The famous rock garden is surrounded by earthen walls in three directions and faced with the corridor of the Hojo building. In the rectangular space measuring 30 by 78 feet, and contains, 15 rocks of various sizes are arranged on white sand in five groups, each comprising five, two, three, two, and three rocks. The most popular explanation of this garden is that the rocks represent a mother tiger and her cubs, swimming in the river of the white sand toward a fearful dragon. Others have said that the gardens resembled at point rice fields, and at others the undulating sea. Yet others have said that the garden might well be called "The Garden of Nothingness" for its very austerity. Ryoan-ji is famous for being very, very crowded, and one guidebook I read warned that in some seasons, one can not even get through the visitors to get even a glimpse of the garden. I have to admit that we must have been extremely lucky, for even dead in the middle of cherry blossoms season, only five other visitors were in the garden. No need to say that we found a gorgeous, bright pink cherry blossom tree drooping just over the wall of the rock garden, lending the otherwise austere garden the spirit of spring and renewal.
From journal Kyoto - The Japan of Old