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6 Most Beautiful Zen Rock Gardens In Kyoto

Many people go to Kyoto to see the ancient temples or for the spring blooms of sakura (cherry blossoms), but Kyoto’s old-fashioned rock gardens are unavoidable. The absence of flowers doesn’t only decide the beauty; the intentional placement of stones and the minimal designs in the sand, which include pebbles that look like waves, are all chosen to drive the mind to a specified mood.

There’s more than what’s visible in the classic Japanese rock garden. Some are adorned with abstract Zen dialogues hidden in their landscape, and others are stone recreations of iconic scenes in Japanese historical times. If you understand the background knowledge, these dull landscapes can be brought to life for you. Here are a few of our top Kyoto rock gardens.

Daitokuji Temple, Kita

Daitokuji Temple

If you’re curious to know something more about Zen gardening and the history behind it, Daitokuji Temple is the location to begin. The spreading complexity of the Zen temple located in the northern part of the city is home to the various rocks hidden among various sub-temples.

From Daisenin’s interconnected gardens with their clean white gravel to Ryogenin’s rock garden, which represents all of the Universe, plenty of stones contain specific meaning and symbols in themselves.

Each of the temples in Daitokuji has its hours of operation and entry fee. However, the majority are open from 9 am and 3 pm.

Enkouji

Enkouji

Enkouji has a lot of stuff to see. Most includes autumn foliage. During late November, the whole ground spread with colorful leaves that mesmerize different visitors to visit. This place is famous for its Zen garden, including a lush bamboo grove, along with its natural beauty.

The gardener decided not to draw the lines of the garden by using stones because the gardener was hoping that visitors could complete the picture of the park within their minds. The garden’s white sand is laid out to look like clouds and is surrounded by stones representing the flying dragon.

Ryoanji

Ryoanji

Being part of the Unesco World Heritage site, Ryoanji alone hosts among the most famous rock garden. At the same time, the Zen temple was built in 1450 by the Hosokawa Katsumoto, the man as a deputy to the Ashikaga Shogun dynasty. However, the year in which the garden was constructed is a subject of intense debate. A few theories suggest that Katsumoto’s son was the one behind the park’s creation; on the other hand, some believe the famed 16th-century artist Soami built it.

In addition, the origin of the garden isn’t the sole mystery. A baffling carving formation of the temple allows visitors to think about the significance of this tranquil area. Although giant rocks are unmarked, monks of the temple regularly rake the gravel.

Taizoin Temple, Ukyo

Taizoin Temple, Ukyo

At the Taizoin Temple, you will find various gardens of different times, Motonobu no Niwa. Evergreen plants surround the rock garden intended to express eternal beauty and the Inyo no Niwa Garden, which focuses on the interplay of shadow and sunlight. Each park is distinct and complements each other such as the rock garden sample set.

That temple takes the general public admission with acceptable offers inside the admission process, which you will love to take, this kind of Zen meditation session is an excellent way to sharpen your body and mind before you head out.

Tofukuji

Tofukuji

The gardens of Tofukuji were designed by the famous architect of land Mirei Shigemori in 1939 and are ordered into four quarters that surround Hojo (priest’s residence).
The rocks represent the heavenly islands called Eiji, Horai, Koryo, and Hojo, while the gravel represents eight rough oceans.

The eastern garden is defined by seven cylindrical stones within the moss field, representing the constellation Ursa Major, otherwise known as the Big Dipper.

The garden in the south is made up of jagged rocks and is surrounded by circular patterns carved into gravel.

The temple’s northern and western gardens, even though they are classified as stone gardens, differ from the rigidity of the eastern and southern gardens by including green formations of azalea and moss.

Manshuin Monzeki Temple, Sakyo

Manshuin Monzeki Temple, Sakyo

The Manshuin Monzeki Temple offers a serene rock garden experience with a giant stones turtle and a gravel stream.
The event also includes a unique opportunity to make your own ‘rock garden’ dessert. You can make a delicious mini rock landscape by scattering the candy designed to appear like pebbles over the silky green tea tiramisu made by the local confectioner Ichijo JI Nakatani.

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