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Ryoanji Temple, The Ultimate Zen Spirit

Tomoe S.

by Tomoe S.

(106 reviews)
Last updated : Jan 12, 20243 min read

Travel Tips

Ryoanji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple of Rinzai sect, was built by a powerful feudal lord in the 15th century.  It is designated as a World Cultural Heritage site.  

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Its rock garden is a world-famous Japanese garden which doesn't use any ponds or small rivers.  Fifteen rocks are arranged from the east to the west in the beautiful white sand garden.  You can see only 14 rocks of them from any places.  It is said that the 15th rock can be seen only when you attained enlightenment.  

Many people from all over the world including Queen Elizabeth and Steve Jobs have visited this temple to see the garden of utter beauty of ultimate Zen spirit. 

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(Can you see all the 15 rocks?)(This is the miniature version of the garden.)

Just sit and spend the tranquil time in front of the rock garden.  You may attain enlightenment. 

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Ryoanji Temple is also famous for its stone basin, 'Tsukubai'. (Wash basin is provided at the entrance to a holy place. Visitors are to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of their mouth.)

You will find Chinese characters, kanji, written on the surface of the stone.  You will find five parts of kanji which create four kanji. Each four Chinese characters are completed if it includes the square hole at the center, which represents the Japanese word, 'mouth'. This square hole is one part of each of those four Chinese characters.  The inscription of four characters reads, 'Ware-tada-taru-o-shiru', literally means that 'I learn only to be contented.'  It tells us that the person who learned only to be contented is spiritually rich.  It teaches us the teaching of Zen Buddhism.  

You can also enjoy walking in the strolling garden in the precinct of Ryoanji Temple.  Kyoyochi Pond has a mountain scenery at its back (this is a traditional Japanese gardening technique known as 'Shakkei' or borrowed landscape garden).  Flowers and trees around the pond are reflected on the pond as if the pond were a mirror.

Ryoanji Temple is blessed with the beauty of the four seasons.  In spring, you will enjoy the marvelous beauty of cherry blossoms.  In summer, the brilliant green world will welcome you.  In autumn, so many maple leaves turn into red and create the gorgeous scenery.  In winter, you will find another world of ink painting on snowy days.  

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It takes only 5 minutes by bus from Kinkakuji Temple, Golden Pavilion.  (As for Kinkakuji temple, Golden Pavilion, please refer to my blog, 'Kinkakuji Temple, Golden Pavilion of Dazzling Beauty'.)  Why don't you visit Ryoanji Temple and enjoy the ultimate beauty of Zen spirit, which completely differs from the dazzling gold Kinkakuji Temple?

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Tomoe S.

Tomoe S.

4.93 / 5
(106 reviews)

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