Ryōan-ji Temple (龍安寺)

Ryōan-ji Temple (龍安寺) with a fabulous Zen Garden

Ryoan-ji is one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan because of its Karesansui rock 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 Kyoyochi.

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


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.

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This webpage was updated April 22, 2015

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