Kyoto city has so many shrines and temples that sometimes you may think you’ve seen enough, but you will never get bored if you focus on their specific beauty and enigma. Today we’ll go to a beautiful shrine to solve a puzzle. The name of the temple is “Ryoanji”. Located in the northwest of Kyoto near Kinkakuji temple, this place is a piece of art, with a wonderful Japanese garden and picturesque Buddhist architecture.
Step into a park of lotus pond and a green garden
When you enter, look to your left. I am sure the beautiful pond with lotus leaves and flowers will mesmerize you. Maple trees around it make it green in summer and red in autumn. Japanese cherry trees take an essential part in Japanese culture. In spring, the lake is garlanded by white cherry blossom colors. If you follow the road guide arrow showing “Rock Garden”, you will eventually arrive in the main temple building. Take your shoes off at the designated area and go in.
The rocky puzzle to be solved
A small replica of this rock garden is demonstrated on a table inside the temple, helping you understand what’s so great about this temple. It shows a garden with 15 stones, while only 14 are actually visible when you look at the actual garden. The riddle is that you will never find all the stones looking from one point. The actual rock garden in front of the main building of the temple is covered with white pebble and some moss-cladded stones spread over it. Your challenge is to find them all from the veranda of the building. The puzzle is very popular among the visitors.
Fun apart, this famous “dry landscape” and its beauty placed the shrine among the UNESCO World-heritage sites. The place has its own philosophical and architectural significance enough to get a Nature journal publication. The modern architects revealed the axis of the rock garden passes through the main center hall axis, which is the common place to see the garden. From that point the rocks could be connected by imaginary lines to take the shape of a tree.
The main building is a museum
The main temple building has big tatami-floored rooms with description of the historical facts in a few places. Before becoming a Zen Temple in 1450 by Hosokawa Katsumoto, the deputy to the Ashikaga Shogun, it was an aristocratic villa estate founded during the Heian period (794 to 1185). That is probably the reason why the whole place seems so very homely and classy! When you come out, go around the garden. You will find a restaurant specialized in Tofu. Visitors may take a drink only and enjoy the beautiful park.
The mossy green corners tell a lot of history
From the hundreds of shrines and temples in Kyoto, the Ryoanji Temple has its own significance and beauty to be revealed. This temple should be in of your must-see list for Kyoto. From Kyoto station take the 205 bus route to Kinkakuji. From there, walk 15-20 min or take the 59 route bus during for a 9 min ride. Entrance fee is 600 JPY, (approximately 5 USD). When other people and some guide books will recommend you to visit Kinkakuji as a highest priority, my suggestion is to spend ten more minutes from Kinkakuji to reach this interesting place, and feel its unique history while being in touch with nature.
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