龍安寺Ryoan-ji Temple is a Zen temple in northwest Kyoto most famous for its 枯山水方丈石庭karesansui houjou-sekitei, or dry landscape rock garden. It may not be an exaggeration to say that it may be the most outstanding surviving dry landscape rock garden; no wonder it’s a ユネスコの世界遺産「古都京都の文化財」”Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto” UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1450 Warlord Katsumoto Hosokawa founded Ryoan-ji Temple after attaining possession of the estate of the 藤原氏Fujiwara Clan; it was destroyed during the 応仁の乱Onin War but rebuilt by his son after his death. The tombs of the Hosokawa emperors are on the grounds, referred to as the “Seven Imperial Tombs”.
It’s unclear about who created the rock garden and when it was created but apparently it used to be a layout of nine big stones representing tiger cubs crossing water before being composed of 15 stones as it now is today. Unless one is enlightened, he can only see 14 of the 15 stones at any angle. The garden is best seen from the verandah of the 方丈hojo where the chief priest of the temple lives.
Here are some pictures that I took when Shane, Diana and Joyce came to Kyoto for a couple of days in late March 2008.
桜sakura (cherry blossoms) in the parking lot of the temple
cherry blossoms on the grounds of the temple
one side of the famous rock garden…
the other side of the rock garden
a grove of cherry blossoms
a particularly popular tree