The Zen Garden of Ryoan-ji

Ryoan-ji was our last ‘hurrah’ in the very beautiful city of Kyoto. I added it to mine and R’s list of places to go to after seeing gorgeous pictures of its gardens. Apparently, its rock garden or zen garden is the most famous of its kind in Japan.

I tried to look up what Zen is, exactly, but for now let’s leave it at having something to do with Buddhism.

17_ryoanji_01 The pond which we caught a glimpse of when we first entered the temple area.

Hello, Autumn. *__*

Visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering.

And here’s the viewing area for the garden. There were a lot of people, but everyone was relatively quiet as they sat or walked around.
The garden is apparently full of mystery. The position of the rocks has no concrete meaning; the interpretation is left to those who see them. I’d like to know how the lines and swirls around the rocks are maintained, though.


There is still a lot to see of the temple grounds after the rock garden. I found our leisurely walk on our way out more peaceful than being surrounded by all the people who viewed the garden the same time we did.


To get to Ryoan-ji, ride Kyoto City bus numbers 12, or 59 and get off at the Ryoan-ji Mae bus stop. It is just two bus stops away from Kinkaku-ji. Entrance fee is 500 yen.

Official website:

Visit my Japan page for more of my misadventures (and information, of course)!


6 thoughts on “The Zen Garden of Ryoan-ji

  1. Those pretty leaves *_____*

    The designer behind this garden is a genius. It’s intriguing how you never get to see all of the rocks no matter where you stand. One is always hidden from your view. Carefully crafted!

    They use a rake for the lines and swirls. If memory serves me right, the rocks represent land and the swirls are waves. So it’s a bunch of islands, I guess. They’re called dry gardens, but not really. XD

    • Oh a rake! Haha. Genius. But how? XD I guess the swirls are done while whoever is doing it is walking backwards…? I’m so curious lol. Also the rocks and swirls representing earth and water makes sense! Thanks for the explanation Tammy ❤

  2. Wow, Kyoto is so gorgeous during the Fall. I just got back from Japan a week ago but didn’t really get to see the changing of the leaves during my time there. Your pictures help make up for it, wonderful post.

      • Yes, when I was there (September 25 – October 21), it was still pretty warm and quite humid in certain areas. Sapporo was the coldest area we hit. But, even there, we didn’t get to see too much of the changing leaves. We’ll have to go a little later in the fall next time. I’m really looking forward to more posts from you, your blog is wonderful.

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