Ryoanji Rock Garden

Ryoanji Rock Garden 400
Rock Garden, Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Photo by: jimg944, Creative Commons

Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first owner of the estate was the Fujiwara family but after several years, the Hosokawa clan became its owner, specifically Hosokawa Katsumoto. After Katsumoto died, the estate was transformed to a Zen Buddhism temple complex. The tombs of the seven emperors of the Hosokawa clan are located inside the complex.

However, the main feature of this estate is the Ryoanji Rock Garden. It is a kind of karesansui or dry landscape. Many people from all over the world go here to see the famous rock garden.

The garden has 15 rocks that are placed on a wide expanse of land covered with white gravel. The rocks are covered with moss, which adds a green tinge to the whole landscape. However, even though the rocks are 15, you will only see 14 of them no matter what angle you look at it, except at the top view. If you go there and try to go around the boulders to see all 15, you will not succeed because the creator of this masterpiece strategically placed all 15 rocks so that people can only see 14 of them.

The creator, whoever he is, did not create this rock formation to make fun of the tourists or to have a good laugh, though. This is related to Zen Buddhism. In Buddhism, the number 15 signifies wholeness or completeness. In the rock garden, if you can see all 15, it means you have already attained enlightenment.

Although the rock formation is not as complicated or modern as the other more famous architectural designs and structures, its simplicity and brilliance made it one of the most visited places in Japan.

One response to “Ryoanji Rock Garden”

  1. Casey says:

    The first thing I saw was Fujiwara, and I though of Hikaru No Go. My mind is blown. Very informative however.

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