Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Kyoto] Ryoan-ji 龍安寺

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Ryoan-ji 龍安寺

Add: 13 Goryoshita-machi, Ryoan-ji, Kyoto
Tel: 075-463-2216
Hours: [Mar-Nov] 8am-5pm [Dec-Feb] 8:30am-4:30pm
Price: ¥500
Visited: Nov 2010

Ryoan-ji’s “Zen garden” is another one of my favorite spots in Kyoto. There are no trees in this dry landscape garden (kareisansui), just 15 irregularly shaped moss-surrounded rocks of varying sizes, arranged in white gravel that is raked every day. The rocks are placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle, only 14 are visible at one time. It is said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to see the fifteenth boulder. Come try it yourself?

So why 15? In the Buddhist world, the number 15 denotes completeness. To have a whole and meaningful experience, one must have a total view of the garden, which is not possible in the conditions of this world.

The meaning of the garden is not explicit and is up to each viewer to find meaning for him/herself. Do visit early since the garden becomes crowded in the afternoon, and you most definitely won’t have a serene moment for contemplation and introspection.

Here’s a model showing all 15 boulder.

Ryoanji is a mere 15 minute walk west of Kinkakuji, so it’s a good strategy to visit both temples on the same day. If you are coming from elsewhere, take Keifuku Kitano Line to Ryoanji-michi Station and it will only be a 5-minute walk from there.

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Written by sugarednspiced

November 27th, 2010 at 10:12 am