Attraction Ryōan-ji, 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8001, Japan Published on: 29-02-2016
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Why Ryoanji Temple is special ?
Ryōan-ji (The Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. It belongs to the Myōshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the (if not the) finest surviving examples of kare-sansui ("dry landscape"), a refined type of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst a sweep of smooth pebbles (small, carefully selected polished river rocks) raked into linear patterns that facilitate meditation. The temple and its gardens are listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to explore at Ryoanji Temple?
The Zen garden is an austere arrangement of 15 rocks rests on a bed of white gravel, surrounded by low walls. The moss-covered boulders are placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle, only 14 are visible at one time. In the Buddhist world the number 15 denotes completeness.
Behind the simple temple that overlooks the rock garden, you can see a stone washbasin called Tsukubai, which is said to have been contributed by Tokugawa Mitsukuni in the 17th century. It bears a simple but profound four-character inscription: "I learn only to be contented." This is the heart of Zen philosophy.
The main temple building is a meditation hall (hojo) furnished with tatami mats, sliding doors, and a small Buddhist altar. It opens onto the veranda that overlooks the rock garden. You can enter the temple to pray good things for you, for your family.
Going around, you can admire the temple grounds which cover 120 acres, including the scenic mountain backdrop, and are well worth a stroll, particularly the cool green moss gardens and large pond. Due to its large population of waterbirds, it is popularly known as Oshidori-ike, the pond of mandarin ducks. The pond has two small islands, the larger of which is has a small bridge leading across to a shrine to Benten, the Shinto goddess of good luck.
On the rim of the pond is a beautiful little restaurant, Ryoanji Yudofuya, with tatami rooms and screens. At there you can eat yudofu or have an expensive beer and enjoy the view.
How to get to Ryoanji Temple?
Ryoanji can be reached directly from Kyoto Station by JR bus. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes, costs 230 yen and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. There are buses every 15-30 minutes. Alternatively, Ryoanji is a five minute bus ride or 20 minute walk west of Kinkakuji.
The temple can also be reached by the Keifuku Kitano Line, a small train that runs through the calm residential areas of northwestern Kyoto and offers a connection to Arashiyama. To access Ryoanji, get off at Ryoanji-michi Station from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to the temple.
- The Classic Zen rock garden
- Most peaceful place visited
- Much better than expected
- Zen and the soul of Japanese gardening
- The Epitome of Japanese Rock Gardens
Ryōan-ji, 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8001, Japan
Tips for you
When you are at Ryoanji, you will remember having to remove your shoes at the entrance and walking on the hundreds-year-old wood plank deck that has been polished glassy smooth by the thousands of visitors, monks and dignitaries included, for ages. This, no doubt, is a key part of the experience. I suppose they could have opted for the kinds of cover-up, cotton booties used at other historic sites around the world. But no, this is Japan, so you take off your shoes. For most people, this changes your perception of where you are, of your place in this temple. You are a guest--- you leave your shoes in little cubbies and you don't worry about them. You check your socks for holes. You walk a little gingerly at first, then you drag your feet slightly, then you full-on slide across the wooden boards like Anton Ono. You see the rocks, the big ones set amongst the little ones. And if you're lucky, you sit. You sit on the edge of the deck and realize that this is it, the iconic rock garden, THE rock garden. When people think of rock gardens, this is the one they are thinking of, even if they don't know it. This, in its contemplative, relatively diminutive form, is The Pyramids, The Great Wall, the Graceland of rock gardens. Unimpressed skeptics can compare other rock gardens or other temples, of which there are so many in Kyoto, but this icon of rock gardens remains quietly entrenched in its status as the one. The crowds can wear you down, make your experience seem almost contradictory--- why is this peaceful place so crowded and noisy? "Uh, excuse me, I think I'm supposed to be alone here to look at this." You want people to leave. You don't want to share. You want to tell people to be quiet, even to shut up. But that too would ruin the moment. You will lose it and never regain it again. Beat the crowds: arrive very early or very late. Pick a typical weekday instead of a weekend. Then wait out the ebb and flow of visitors and hope for a precious, silent gap when you can get your zen on. Then enjoy that moment, savor it, and keep it stored away in a very safe place in your heart.
Ryoanji temple has a minimalist garden and a meditation space for a Kyoto Zen sect. This simple arrangement of rocks and sand is completely soul stealing, even with the crowds of nirvana seekers.
I love this place. It's quite memorable spot! Usually I go there as I wanna relax and avoid reality It's a famous temple for rock garden "Sekitei(石庭), one of the cultural heritages in Kyoto. If you wanna feel WABI SABI and know what it is, you should drop in and you will know why Japanese people have been loving that. Autumn and spring is the recommended seasons because of cherry blossom and leaves turning beautiful red (autumn foliage) Also you can see Ninna-ji temple around there. If you have a time you should go there too! Admission Adult 500 yen 15 years old and under 300 yen