Kyoto Tourist: Ryoan-ji

Do you remember when I took you to Kennin-ji a while back?  Well, today I want to show you another Zen temple, and it's just a 10 minute walk from Kinkaku-ji. 

This is Ryoan-ji.  It was originally built as a country house, but was later turned into a Zen training temple in 1450. 

After you finish at Kinkaku-ji, turn right on the road as you exit.  Stroll down this road for 10-15 minutes, and you'll come across the entrance to Ryoan-ji on your right.  Alternatively, if you're not up for the walk, there are regular buses that stop in front of the temple.  It will cost you ¥220 and only takes a few minutes.  I prefer the walk, myself!

A ticket will cost ¥500 and gives you full access to the grounds and the Rock Garden.

The Rock Garden is the main thing most people go to Ryoan-ji to see.  You'll have to take your shoes (or boots) off to go inside.

I love the tatami...I wish you could walk on it, but it's all roped off!

Have a wander around, then take a peek at the Rock Garden.  There are 15 rocks surrounded by a bit of moss and impeccably manicured gravel.  I can totally get the whole Zen vibe of sitting in the quiet and contemplating the simple layout of the garden, however I find it anything but Zen.  The viewing deck is packed with people pushing to get the photo, posing for selfies, chatting on cell phones, shouting and waving to friends, counting's just not a peaceful place (in my humble opinion!).  I snapped a couple of photos, then cleared out to make room for the next Zen seeker.

The rest of the complex is a bit more secluded and peaceful!

I saw these trees and thought, wow, what odd trees! 

Then I took a closer look and realized they were pruned to look that way.  Hmm...

End your tour by strolling around the lake.  There's lots of waterfowl, carp and pretty foliage.

Ryoan-ji is a lovely complex, but much, much more popular than Kennin-ji.  If you're looking for some peace and quiet and a place to meditate, head to Kennin-ji in Gion.  If you have the time, visit both and decide for yourself which one you like better!

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