Ryoanji (Ryōan-ji) Temple is one of Japan’s most iconic and beautiful sights. Listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this famous rock garden is a place you cannot miss. I really enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of Ryoanji Temple and walking through its many gardens. Most people find this temple is the perfect place to unwind after visiting Kinkakuji.
The highlight of Ryoanji is obviously the rock garden, which was created sometime in the late 15th century. 15 stones are grouped into five clusters and are surrounded by a mass of white pebbles. Monks rake the garden every day, ensuring that each pebble is in place. The meaning of the arrangement is still unknown!
After paying an entrance fee of 500 yen, take a short walk towards the rock garden. Remember to take off your shoes as you enter the temple. It is said you’re supposed to view the garden from a sitting position. Unless you’re visiting at a busy time, there are usually plenty of spots available. Take your time and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Ryoanji, pondering the meaning of this abstract rock garden.
After leaving the rock garden, take a walk around the gardens and Kyoyochi pond. The grounds are beautiful and home to many turtles and occasionally you can see swans. Each area of the temple feels unique and is worth exploring. Last but not least, there is a restaurant on site that offers Yudofu (boiled tofu).
How to get there:
Ryoanji is accessible by bus directly from Kyoto Station. The ride takes approximately 30 mins and is covered by the JR Pass. You can also visit Kinkakuji Temple first and then walk to Ryoanji. This will take between 15-20 minutes.