The ultimate zen garden – Ryōan-ji

The rock garden (also called karesansui) and architecture of Ryōanji show perfectly the quintessence of Zen. Ryōanji is a temple located in north part of Kyoto, Japan. Zen Buddhism is Striving for “enlightenment” or “awakening” is the most significant goal for Zen Buddhism followers. At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, Ryōanji blossomed as a great Zen center for the cultural activities. Nowadays the temple and its gardens are considered as one of the Historical Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Since late 1990, the rock garden draws over a million visitors annually and is recognized as a symbol of Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture.

The rock garden

The Ryōanji garden is currently one of the most recognizable examples of a rock garden. This type of gardens began to arise in medieval Japan, and they were created for encouraging contemplation. What makes a rock garden stand out from a traditional Japanese garden are obviously stones and the raked white pebbles.  You will find here a limited to the minimum use of plants.

Fifteen different sized rocks are not by accident arranged in groups amongst the raked gravel. The stones are precisely organized, in a way that one can’t see all of the fifteen at once. It is believed that light colored gravel symbolizes fluid elements such as waterfalls, rivers, creeks or sea, and rocks suggest more permanent elements of nature such as islands, shores, and bridges.

The aesthetic values of simplicity

Altogether, these concepts advertise the aesthetic values of simplicity, restraint, and truth to organic materials. The simplicity of white pebbles, natural rocks, moss trimmed with almost surgical precision and the earthy toned clay walls, creates a contrast with the greenery of trees breaking from the outside of the karesansui, which emphasizes even more calmness and contemplation character of the place.

Opening hours

March – November: 8am to 5pm

December – February: 8:30am to 4:30pm



500 yen