Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto

Ryoanji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple founded in 1450. It contains one of the best examples of a dry landscape garden.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Dry Landscape Gardens

Dry landscape gardens are made entirely with large stones, smaller rocks, and sand. Water is represented by raked gravel and sand.

Ryoanji Rock Garden

The famous rock garden at Ryoanji in Kyoto contains 15 stones of different sizes inside a 248 square meter rectangle. The large stones are arranged in a way that when seated anywhere on the platform, you can only see 14 at one time.

The exact construction date of the garden, as well as the meaning, is not clear. Many believe a Zen monk built it in the late 15th century. And it’s up to you, the observer, to find meaning in the garden.

Strolling Garden

Japanese gardens are mostly for viewing and are best appreciated from strolling paths. The lawns, trees, and shrubs are shaped and trimmed daily and mosses are swept clean. You should not stray from the paths, step on the mosses, or pick any of the flowers.

The strolling garden at Ryoanji was constructed in the late 12th century. It features a central pond and a small shrine on an island.


Ryoanji Temple is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from March until the end of November. In the winter months, it is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm every day.

General admission is 600 yen. Admission for children under 15 years old is 300 yen. See the official website for more details.

How to Get There

To get to Ryoanji Temple, take the subway to Imadegawa Station and then get on Bus 59 to Ryoanji Mae.

From Kyoto Station, there are JR Buses that can take you directly to Ryoanji Mae bus stop. This is especially convenient and economical if you are traveling with a JR Pass.

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