Local Map

Places of Interest in the vicinity

RYOAN-JI Temple with a fabulous Zen Garden

Ryoan-ji is one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan because of its Sekitei (literally rock garden, also, Karesansui, or dry landscape garden). The garden is rather small in size, 30m x 10m, and quite simple in construction yet it can be very complex in interpretation. You may enjoy the beauty of the garden at a glance or you may be just puzzled. Anyway, you may need some imagination to better appreciate the garden. When you sat on the porch in front of the garden, you might see deep into yourself like ancient Zen monks might have done.

The temple also has another good garden which can be categorized as Chisen-Shuyu-Shiki teien, or a pond-boating garden. The name of the pond is Kyoyo-chi.

Ryoan-ji temple belongs to the Myoshin-ji Group of Rinzai Zen sect Buddhism.

History of Ryoan-ji

The place used to be a villa of the nobility Tokudaiji family. A feudal lord Hosokawa Katsumoto bought it in the year 1450 and established the temple. He asked the fifth chief priest of Myoshin-ji temple, Giten Gensho, successfully to be the founder.

The temple was burned down during Onin civil war and Hosokawa Masamoto, a son of Katsumoto, rebuilt the temple in 1499. Some believes that the rock garden was laid out then. In the year 1797, buildings including Hojo, Butsuden (Buddha's hall), Kaisando (Founder's hall), were reduced to ashes and the present Hojo, that was built in 1606 as the Hojo of Ryoan-ji's sub-temple Seigen-in, was moved to here and reconstructed. The Butsuden hall was built in 1981.

How to get there

  • 35 minutes by Kyoto City Bus No. 50 from Kyoto Station to the last stop "Ritsumeikan-Daigaku-Mae" and 7 minutes on foot, or
  • 5 minutes from Kinkaku-ji Mae to Ryoan-ji Mae on Kyoto City Bus No. 59, or
  • 35 minutes from Keihan-Sanjo station to Ryoan-ji Mae on Kyoto City Bus 59, or
  • 7 minutes of walk from Ryoan-ji Michi station of Keifuku Railway.

Hours and Admission

March to November: 8:00-17:00
December to February 8:30-16:30

All except those listed below: 500 yen
Schoolchildren  and Junior High School Students (1st to 9th graders): 300 yen
Children under school age: free

Photos / Pictures

Photos of Karesansui (Dry Landscape) garden

This is one of the most important gardens of Japan. If you visited Kyoto for the first time, you should include this garden into your itinerary.

Click on a photo for a larger image.

The whole view of karesansui garden 1
The Karesansui (Dry Landscape) garden, or the Sekitei (Rock Garden). The white stuff on the roof of the wall is snow. Nobody knows who laid out this garden nor what the intention was.
February 17, 2008
Visitors and  karesansui garden The whole view of karesansui garden 2 Groups 1 and 5
People watching the rock garden from verandah of Hojo.
January 6, 2007
This is the most popular angle for a photo of the Zen garden.
June 17, 2007
Rocks of Group 1 on the left and Group 5 on the right.
November 28, 2000
Group 1 rocks Group 2 rocks Group 3 rocks
Rocks of Group 1 that consists of 5 rocks.
February 17, 2008
Group 2 consists of three rocks.
August 23, 2007
Group 3 consists of three rocks.
June 17, 2007
Group 4 rocks Group 5 rocks Groups 2, 3 and 4
The Group 4 consists of two rocks.
June 17, 2007
The Group 5 consists of two rocks.
March 19, 2005
From left to right, Groups 2, 4 and 3.
November 28, 2000

Photos of West garden

The west garden is usually close to the public.

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Butsu-den and Hosokawa-byo The belfry
Butsuden hall on the right and Hosokawa-byo building on the left. These buildings and West Garden are usually not open to the public.
March 19, 2005
The belfry.
March 19, 2005
Hosokawa-byo A figure of Hosokawa Katsumoto
Hosokawa-byo.
March 19, 2005
A figure of Hosokawa Katsumoto, who established  Ryoan-ji temple. This figure is in Hosokawa-byo building
March 19, 2005

Photos of Kyoyo-chi pond

After you visited the rock garden, you walk along this pond. You may be able to find the beauties of it in all seasons. This pond was made well before Ryoan-ji was founded.

Click on a photo for a larger image.

Kyoyochi pond A stone bridge An azalea
Kyoyo-chi pond of Ryoan-ji. Nobles enjoyed boating on this pond hundreds of years ago. Branches of a persimmon tree that bear fruit can be seen on the left of the photo.
November 19, 2007
A stone bridge over water of Kyoyo-chi pond.
January 6, 2007
Satsuki or, an azalea on the bank of Kyoyo-chi Pond.
June 7, 2003
Daishu-in Reflection of the blue sky on Kyoyochi pond A small boat house
Daishu-in, a sub-temple of Ryoan-ji. On the foreground are water lilies on the Kyoyo-chi pond.
November 19, 2007
Reflection of the blue sky on Kyoyo-chi pond.
November 19, 2007
Kyoyo-chi pond and a small boat house.
November 19, 2007
Irises beside a stone bridge Water lilies Sunbathing tortoises
Hanashobu or, irises beside a stone bridge over Kyoyo-chi pond.
June 7, 2003
Water lilies on the Kyoyo-chi pond.
June 17, 2007
Sunbathing tortoises on a rock on a pond of Ryoan-ji. There are four of them.
June 17, 2007

Other photos

Click on a photo for a larger image.

Guideposts Somon gate of Ryoan-ji A curved approach to Ryoan-ji
Guideposts indicating the way to Ryoan-ji.
August 24, 2002
Somon gate of Ryoan-ji. This gate is across the street from Ryoan-ji and few people notice its existence.
November 19, 2007
A curved approach to Ryoan-ji.
June 17, 2007
Sanmon gate Ryusui, a stone wash basin Stone Buddhist image
San-mon gate of Ryoan-ji.
January 26, 2004
Ryusui, a stone wash basin in the garden of Ryoan-ji.
March 19, 2005
Stone Buddhist image in the garden of Ryoan-ji.
June 17, 2007
Stairs to the Kuri Kuri The entrance hall of Kuri
Stairs to the Kuri of Ryoan-ji
November 28, 2000
Kuri, the main building of Ryoan-ji.
February 15, 2003
The entrance hall of Kuri.
January 26, 2004
Souvenir shop in the Kuri Shoheki-ga (Fusuma-e) Buddhist image
Souvenir shop in the Kuri building.
November 19, 2007
Shoheki-ga (Fusuma-e) in the tatami room of Hojo.
June 17, 2007
Buddhist image in Butsuma, or Buddha's room in Hojo building.
November 19, 2007
The tatami room of Hojo Tsukubai, a wash basin A bamboo fence called Ryoan-ji-gaki
The tatami room of Hojo.
June 17, 2007
Tsukubai, a wash basin. Kanji character (Chinese character) on the upper surface reads "I only know to be contented".
June 17, 2007
A bamboo fence called Ryoan-ji-gaki.
June 17, 2007
Chokushi-mon Gate Kitayama-sugi Restaurant in the precinct of Ryoan-ji
Chokushi-mon Gate that has Kara-mon style.
March 19, 2005
Kitayama-sugi, or Kitayama cedar.
November 19, 2007
Restaurant in the precinct of Ryoan-ji.
July 7, 2003
Benzaiten Jizo Buddhist images People caught in a shower
Benzaiten on an islet on Kyoyo-chi pond.
June 17, 2007
Jizo Buddhist images on an islet on Kyoyo-chi pond.
June 17, 2007
People caught in a shower.
June 7, 2003