Ryoan-ji Temple

Area West
Category Temple / World Heritage


There are over 1600 temples in Kyoto, so it is certainly possible to see rock gardens, but the most famous is probably Ryoan-ji Temple. A temple of the Myoshinji Sect of the Rinzaishu, Ryoan-ji Temple is positioned in the northeast portion of Kyoto and is a registered World Heritage site. The rock garden at Ryoan-ji Temple is 22 meters wide and about 10 meters deep. Inside this area is blanketed in white sand and dotted with 15 stones, making for a very simple arrangement, however everyone who visits this simple but mysterious “box” gazes at it silently. Each person who views it seems to have their own private impressions...


(L) The relatively small San-mon gate(the main gate of a Buddhist temple), said to have been erected in 1680.
(C) Once you pass San-mon gate(the main gate of a Buddhist temple), the lake called Kyoyochi(a large reflecting pond) comes into view. The path continues alongside this lake.
(R) The stone steps continuing to Kuri(Priests' quarters). Short bamboo fences called "Ryoan-ji gaki" have been erected on both sides.


Interior of the Hojo(abbot's quarters). Folding screens and painted sliding screens are displayed.


The details of when and by whom “rock gardens” were created are unknown. There are many theories regarding the placement of stones, but it's not well understood. It's because of this that each individual may have his or her own interpretation.


Tsukubai(a low wash basin)
A low wash basin provided at Japanese Buddhist temples for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth. A ladle is sometimes provided for the visitors. sometimes the water is poured into the Tsukubai from a bamboo conduit. it stops and starts the flow of water depending on the weight of the water flowing into it. Ryoan-ji's tsukubai has 4 kanji characters on the surface of it. those are without significance when read alone. but if each is read in combination with the character 口, the central bowl is meant to represent, then the characters become 吾 - I, 唯 - only, 足 - plenty, 知 - know. the meaning of the phrase is simply that "what one has is all one needs" and is meant to reinforce the basic anti-materialistic teachings of Buddhism.

Address 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto, 616-8001, Japan
Tel 075-463-2216
Open 8:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.
8:30a.m. - 4:30p.m.(Dec. - Feb.)
Admission 600 yen
300 yen(Jr. Highschoo & Elementary)
Access City Bus Stop Ryoanji-mae
7 minute walk from Randen Railway Ryoanji Station

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