Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kyoto : Ryoan-ji Temple

Kyoto is well known for its many temples and shrines. While gardens of some temples are well known too, there is the garden of one temple which is more popular than the temple itself. That temple would be the Ryoanji temple and the garden is question would be Japan's most famous Rock Garden. The garden is so popular that it attracts hundreds of visitors every day. The temple and and its famous Rock Garden are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.  
The Ryoanji temple is a Zen temple located in north west Kyoto. The temple belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. The temple was originally an aristocrat's villa  belonging to the Fujiwara clan during the Heian period and was converted into a Zen temple only in 1450. 
The famous rock garden is considered to be one of the finest surviving remnants of 'Kare-Sansui' ( Dry landscape), a style of Japanese Zen gardens. Typically, dry landscape style of Zen Gardens feature large rock formations arranged among smooth pebbles raked into linear patterns. It is believed that such patterns facilitate meditation.  
It is interesting to note that facts regarding who built the garden and during what period are unknown and various theories exist regarding the meaning of the garden's pattern. It is widely believed that the garden was added somewhere around late 15th century.  
The garden consists of a rectangular plot covered with smooth river pebbles surrounded by low mud walls. 15 rocks are laid out in small groups amidst patches of moss. What makes the garden unique is that from any particular point at least one of the rocks is always hidden from view.  
The Ryoanji temple has served as a mausoleum for several emperors in the past. The tombs are now grouped together as the " Seven Imperial Tombs" in the temple precincts. 
The Ryoanji complex also features a water garden, a pond, a tea house and a tea garden. 

Address: Kyoto Prefecture, 616-8001, Kyoto shi, Ukyo Ward, Ryoanji Goryonoshita cho,13

Phone: 075-463-2216

Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00 hrs ( closes 16:30 hrs from December to February)

Closing Dates: None

Fees: 500 yen

Website: http://www.ryoanji.jp/smph/eng/  

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