Ryoan-ji, or the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, is a Zen Buddhist Temple located in northern Kyoto and registered as World Heritage Site since 1994, best known for its unique rock garden. Originally created as a private residence for an important clan, it was acquired in 1450 by another powerful warlord to be converted into a Zen training Temple. The Temple was destroyed by fire during the Onin war, but rebuilt soon after in 1499.
Ryoan-ji's garden is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of kare-sansui, or dry landscape, a Zen garden style featuring large and uniquely shaped rocks set on a sea of white pebbles. The origins, author and meaning of the garden is unclear to this date, but theories say it may represent a group to tiger cubs crossing the water. The garden consists of 15 boulders covered with moss, placed in a way that only 14 can be seen at once when looking from any angle. It is believed that one has to reach enlightenment to be able to view all 15 of them.
Aside from the rock garden, which is contemplated from the veranda of the head priest's former residence, Ryoan-ji features a water garden, with a large pond dating from the 12th century, and a Tea house garden with a unique stone water basin named Tsukubai, famous for its circularly arranged inscription which reads "I learn only to be contented". According to Zen teachings, the ones who learn only to be contented are spiritually rich.
Bus no. 12,59,101,102,204,205
Bus no. 59
Kinkakuji can be reached in a short walk from Kinkakuji-michi or Kinkakuji-mae bus stations. From Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji can be reached in a 20 minute walk or in a 5min bus ride to Ryoanji-mae station on line 59.