Enjoying the Rock Garden at Ryōan-ji
The Rock Garden at Ryōan-ji is listed as both A National Site of Special Scenic Beauty and a National Historic Site.As a karesansui, or dry landscape, garden, sand is used to represent the sea, its waves represented by lines drawn in the sand using a rake. The stones are said to represent mountains and islands.Additionally, the Rock Garden’s meanings are interpreted variously as a “Garden of Tiger Cubs Crossing,” or as the shape of the Chinese character for “heart” or “mind,” among other interpretations. Although the meaning remains unclear, the appeal of the Rock Garden is the quietening of the mind that one feels simply by looking. In the Rock Garden at Ryōan-ji, nature can be enjoyed in each season, but especially in spring, when the Rock Garden’s beauty is enhanced by the weeping cherry blossoms. Of course, in the summer the rich green color of the Japanese maple trees, and their leaves changing to red in autumn, are also beautiful. Owing to the snow that also falls in the Kyoto valley, there is also the view of the Rock Garden covered in snow.Sometimes called Hojo-teien (or The Chief Priest’s Garden), it said the garden was made to be viewed while sitting and looking out from the hojo, or the Chief Priest’s residence. By slowing down to view the Rock Garden, one can pass the time clearing the mind.
Highlights of Ryōan-ji
Even outside the Rock Garden, Ryōan-ji is full of charm. Kyoyochi Pond at Ryōan-ji has become even more famous than the Rock Garden. In front of Kyoyochi Pond, there is a circuit-style pond-strolling garden with a boating pond, with beautiful changing leaves in the autumn. From this garden, Mt. Kinugasayama can be seen, and the contrast between the colors of the autumn leaves and the sky at dusk is an especially beautiful, popular thing to see. In addition, with their beautiful greens and pinks, the water lilies blooming radiantly on the water in the summer season are also recommended.Japan’s oldest type of camellia, the wabisuke camellia, is also found here in Ryōan-ji.