Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ryoanji Temple

Kyoto is so full of important and interesting historic sites that it is hard to choose where to go.  But someone had mentioned to me that Ryoanji Temple had a traditional boat sitting in the pond so that was good enough for me.  After visiting the bucket maker (see previous post) I headed that way, across the northern edge of the city.  

Very curious memorials in this particular neighborhood.  A "George Washington slept here" moment.

Outside the temple is a stone store, where you can buy stone lanterns and boulders for your garden.

The boat isn't very visible.  Its traditional, and one of the staff told me it was from Chiba (near Tokyo) and twenty years old.

Ryoanji is known for its famous rock garden, which is truly stunning.  It contains fifteen stones, and it is said that one can only see fourteen stones for any one angle, but that if one attains enlightenment then all fifteen become visible.  Ryoanji is a Zen temple, so in affect this garden is the physical manifestation of the famous koan, or riddle that is suppose to spur enlightenment.  

Many of Kyoto's most famous sites are mobbed by tourists, which can be disappointing, but Ryoanji has sprawling grounds and one can feel, at least for a moment, alone.  And the stone garden is viewed from a veranda and while it was packed with tourists, all are hushed by the beauty of scene.

Lots and lots of schoolchildren from all over Japan visiting Kyoto.  They all seem to have an assignment to interview a foreigner and practice their English.

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