Sign in for a personalized experience.
Japan Guide Homepage
Travel
Living
Forum
Restaurants
Shopping
Jobs
Friends
News
-
Essentials
-
Sightseeing
-
Accommodation
-
Transportation
-
Restaurants
-
Shopping
-
Budget Travel
-
Questions

Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Kyoto - Northern Kyoto
Ryoanji Temple 
# 10   of 59 most visited
sights in Kyoto

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  hotels  -  ratings  -  tours  -  links

Visitors observe Ryoanji's famous rock garden from the Hojo building

Ryoanji Temple (, Ryōanji) is the site of Japan's most famous rock garden, which attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Originally an aristocrat's villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450 and belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, whose head temple stands just a kilometer to the south.

As for the history of Ryoanji's famous rock garden, the facts are less certain. The garden's date of construction is unknown and there are a number of speculations regarding its designer. The garden consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls, with 15 rocks laid out in small groups on patches of moss. An interesting feature of the garden's design is that from any vantage point at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer.

A few stones of Ryoanji's famous rock garden

Along with its origins, the meaning of the garden is unclear. Some believe that the garden represents the common theme of a tiger carrying cubs across a pond or of islands in a sea, while others claim that the garden represents an abstract concept like infinity. Because the garden's meaning has not been made explicit, it is up to each viewer to find the meaning for him/herself. To make this easier, a visit in the early morning is recommended when crowds are usually smaller than later during the day.

Ryoanji's garden is viewed from the Hojo, the head priest's former residence. Besides the stone garden, the Hojo features some paintings on the sliding doors (fusuma) of its tatami rooms, and a couple of smaller gardens on the rear side of the building. In one of the gardens there is a round stone trough that cleverly incorporates its square water basin into a Zen inscription, which students of kanji may be able to appreciate. The Hojo is connected to the Kuri, the former temple kitchen, which now serves as the temple's main entrance.

The Kuri building (former temple kitchen)

Ryoanji's temple grounds also include a relatively spacious park area with pond, located below the temple's main buildings. The pond dates back to the time when the site still served as an aristocrat's villa and features a small shrine on one of its three little islands that can be accessed over a bridge.

Besides some nice walking trails, the park also offers a restaurant which specializes in the Kyoto specialty of Yudofu (boiled tofu). The food is served in attractive tatami rooms that look out onto a traditional Japanese garden. It is also possible for patrons to order just drinks or share one dish between multiple people, but in both cases an extra charge applies.

The pond in spring

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Ryoanji can be reached directly from Kyoto Station by JR bus. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes, costs 230 yen and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. There are buses every 15-30 minutes. Alternatively, Ryoanji is a five minute bus ride or 20 minute walk west of Kinkakuji.

The temple can also be reached by the Keifuku Kitano Line, a small train that runs through the calm residential areas of northwestern Kyoto and offers a connection to Arashiyama. To access Ryoanji, get off at Ryoanji-michi Station from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to the temple.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees
Hours:8:00 to 17:00 (March to November)
8:30 to 16:30 (December to February)
Closed:No closing dates
Admission:500 yen

Advertisement

Hotels and Ryokan
Kyoto offers a wide range of accommodation for all budgets and tastes, including historic ryokan, Western style hotels and low-budget hostels. Among the most attractive districts to stay are the Kyoto Station area, the city center around Shijo Street and the Higashiyama District.
Search Hotels
Sponsor Hotels
Arashiyama Hanaikada
A little, superior ryokan right near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Free transfer at JR station. Private onsen bath.
Recommended Hotels around Kyoto - with lowest rates by selected hotel reservation websites
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Reserve through
Agoda or Booking

Tours and Packages
Kyoto Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Kyoto and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Ryoanji Temple:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 838 users):
86/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 788):
158.  Sightseeing Boats (Shiretoko)   86/100
159.  Harajuku (Tokyo)   86/100
160.  Lake Towada (Lake Towada)   86/100
161.  Shinjuku (Tokyo)   86/100
162.  Higashiyama (Kyoto)   86/100
163.  Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)   86/100
164.  Chichu Museum (Naoshima)   86/100
165.  Nijo Castle (Kyoto)   86/100
166.  Biei (Furano)   86/100
167.  Mount Aso (Aso)   86/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 921):
38.  Marunouchi (Tokyo)   1742
39.  Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto)   1689
40.  Tokyo Dome City (Tokyo)   1595
41.  Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima)   1581
42.  Minato Mirai (Yokohama)   1580
43.  Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)   1570
44.  Hiroshima Downtown (Hiroshima)   1560
45.  Heian Shrine (Kyoto)   1559
46.  Ameyoko (Tokyo)   1489
47.  Roppongi Hills (Tokyo)   1427

User Feedback
We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

English Links
Ryoanji Temple
Official English website.

Japanese Links
Ryoanji Temple
Official website.

Online Reservations
Hotel
 
Car
 
Flight
 
Bus

(check-in)

Related Pages

News and Reports
December 3, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by raina
November 28, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by joe
November 25, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by joe
November 20, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by raina
November 17, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by raina
November 14, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by scott
November 11, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by scott
November 7, 2014
Kyoto Autumn Color Report
by schauwecker
More reports...

Related Questions
Ryoan-ji Question
 4 reactions, last updated 60 days ago
JR bus going to Ryoanji
 1 reaction, last updated 523 days ago
JR bus from Ryoanji temple
 7 reactions, last updated 715 days ago
Train from Ryoanji Temple to Arashiyama
 8 reactions, last updated 1200 days ago
Ryoanji temple renovations?
 5 reactions, last updated 1887 days ago
Nishiki Market
 0 reactions, last updated 43 minutes ago
Cycling to Saga-Toriimoto Preserved...
 4 reactions, last updated 5 days ago
Arashiyama in late December
 1 reaction, last updated 5 days ago
Kyoto Sight seeing pass clarifiications?
 2 reactions, last updated 11 days ago
9 days around Kyoto
 0 reactions, last updated 14 days ago
Sagano Scenic Train
 1 reaction, last updated 15 days ago
Kyoto Sightseeing Pass on all subway and...
 0 reactions, last updated 31 days ago
Eikando & Kiyomizu on the 20th or 24th...
 0 reactions, last updated 31 days ago
Sagano romantic train
 1 reaction, last updated 38 days ago
Ruriko-in
 1 reaction, last updated 39 days ago
Best early Nov Autumn colours in Kyoto
 6 reactions, last updated 40 days ago
How to book Sagano Kanko train in...
 1 reaction, last updated 40 days ago
Fushimi Inari
 1 reaction, last updated 43 days ago
Climbing on Mount Hiei
 1 reaction, last updated 45 days ago
How long do temple visits take
 8 reactions, last updated 46 days ago

Travel
Living
Japan A-Z
Community
Sightseeing
Accommodation
Transportation
Shopping
Essentials
Regions
Prefectures
Cities
Working
Studying
Living Cost
Apartments
Arts and Crafts
Entertainment
History
Religion
Etiquette
Food
Language
Tradition
Question Forum
Classifieds
Trip Reports
Member Area
Sightseeing Guide
Hokkaido
Sapporo
Otaru
Hakodate
Noboribetsu
Niseko
Furano
Daisetsuzan
Shiretoko
more...
Tohoku
Sendai
Matsushima
Hiraizumi
Hachimantai
Hirosaki
Lake Towada
Dewa Sanzan
Aizu
more...
Kanto
Tokyo
Yokohama
Kamakura
Hakone
Nikko
Kawagoe
Kusatsu
Narita
more...
Chubu
Nagoya
Mount Fuji
Izu Peninsula
Matsumoto
Kiso Valley
Takayama
Shirakawa-go
Kanazawa
more...
Kansai
Kyoto
Osaka
Nara
Kobe
Himeji
Mount Koya
Kumano
Ise Shima
more...
Chugoku
Hiroshima
Miyajima
Okayama
Kurashiki
Tottori
Matsue
Iwakuni
Hagi
more...
Shikoku
Takamatsu
Kotohira
Naoshima
Matsuyama
Kochi
Tokushima
Naruto
Iya Valley
more...
Kyushu
Fukuoka
Nagasaki
Kumamoto
Mount Aso
Beppu
Kagoshima
Kirishima
Yakushima
more...
Okinawa
Honto
Kume
Miyako
Yaeyama
Copyright © 1996-2014 japan-guide.com All rights reserved - Last Page Update: January 13, 2014
home - site map - privacy policy - terms of use - contact - employment - Lɂ‚ - advertising