27th January: Kyoto – Ryoanji

On the way back from Kinkaku-Ji, I visited Ryoan-Ji, a Zen Temple mainly famed for its dry rock garden.

From left to right: Stairs up to the gate to the temple, taken from the road; a very old tree in the lower garden with a supporting structure; a gate inside the temple complex to a garden closed to the public

Lower garden with ducks.

The garden and pond dates back to the 12th century. The red structure you can see through the trees is a Shinto gate associated with a shrine dedicated to Benten, a goddess of luck.

The overall site was a Fujiwara estate during the Heian era (794-1185), in other words, the era of Classical Japan when the capital moved from Nara to Heian-kyo (later Kyoto). The Fujiwara were the dominant administrative family of the time and female members often married Emperors.

Above, on the left, the bamboo pipe and ladle are for ritual purification. On the right, is a group of stones from Ryoanji's rock garden.

You can see variations of the bamboo pipe and ladle on the left at many temples. Sometimes they are only for cleansing of the hands and sometimes for drinking the water.

Ryoanji zen rock garden

The Ryoanji zen rock garden, one of the most abstract of zen rock gardens, was constructed in the late fifteenth century. It is designed to be viewed from a long verandah that we are at one end of. There are fifteen stones and it is not possible to see any more than fourteen from any position along the verandah. It was designed this way because fifteen is said to be a perfect number and the garden demonstrates that perfection is not possible.

GPS location (green arrow).

Lower pond and garden

Returning from the rock garden, here we are again at the lower pond and garden. I presume the building is part of the Shinto shrine (access was not possible).

Suburban train at level crossing

Walking back to my lodgings, I had to stop at a small level crossing for this train. This is a suburban line by a private railway (not Japan Rail). Notice how close the train runs to the houses and the car parked on the other side of the tracks gives you an inkling of how scarce and tight parking places can be in Japan.

7 comments on “27th January: Kyoto – Ryoanji

  1. Jools says:

    Beautiful darling, absolutely glorious. Love Jools


  2. […] 26th January: Kyoto – Kinkaku-Ji (the Golden Pavillion) and Ryoanji […]


  3. Priya says:

    Hi Murray, I met you at Sydney airport on jan 26th with my partner, very early in the morning, and you were headed to cairns to go to Japan! Your photos loOk incredible, just beautiful. Looks like your having a lovely time!


    • Murray Foote says:

      Hi Priya, yes, I remember, thanks very much. Japan is wonderful and the people are very friendly and helpful. Just about to head off to Sapporo for a couple of days for the Ice festival: max -5degC; min -13degC.


  4. […] 27th January: Kyoto – Kinkaku-Ji (the Golden Pavillion) and Ryoanji […]


  5. […] 27th January: Kyoto – Ryoanji Share this:ShareEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Updates. Bookmark the permalink. ← 3rd February: Nara – Horyu-ji […]


  6. Vitamin B says:

    Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!


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