Kyoto: 10 Things to Do

3. Ryoan-ji

Ryoanji Temple Eightfish
  • Print
  • Email
  • Share
  • Single Page

Ryoan-ji Temple's dry rock garden is a puzzle. Nobody knows who designed it or what the meaning is of the 15 rocks scattered across its expanse of raked white gravel. Some academics say they represent a tiger carrying a cub across a stream; others believe they depict an ocean accented with small islands or the sky dotted with clouds. There's even a theory that the rocks form a map of Chinese Zen monasteries. The only thing scholars do agree on is that Ryoan-ji is one of the finest examples of Zen landscaping in the country. You could stay there for years quietly contemplating the garden's riddles and still get no nearer to an answer, and maybe that's the point.

You can reach Ryoan-ji on the number 59 bus route. Admission is ¥500 and the temple and garden opens daily 8am to 5pm (8.30am to 4.30pm from Dec to Feb).

Connect to this TIME Story

Interact with
this story

  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Linkedin

From our

Get the Latest News from
Sign up to get the latest news and headlines delivered straight to your inbox.