Kyoto | Ryoanji Temple & Rock Garden

When you think of a garden, what images come to mind? Granny wearing her rubber boots planting vegetables? The crazy cat lady down the street who keeps way too many potted plants per square foot?

Well Jellies, in Kyoto I was lucky enough to visit the internationally famous Rock Garden of Ryoanji Temple, and it was a far cry from Granny's vegetable garden. It was a masterpiece.

The exterior was byoo-ti-ful...

 Gotta love stone lanterns

 I like to take pictures of these plaques for trivia's sake.

 TA-DA! Kuri - the main temple building

 As is Japanese etiquette, you take off your shoes when you enter. Because this place is so old, further damage protection is required with the aid of these classy clogs.

 Not for visitors - only for VIP members attending tea ceremonies...

The gorgeous wall decor in the Zoroku tea room.

 Pam and I had to wash our mitts in this sacred stone wash basin called the Tsukubai. On it is inscribed I learn only to be contented - and what fantastic Buddhist sentiment. The brochure says about the saying, "He who learns only to be contented is spiritually rich, while the one who does not learn to be contented is spiritually poor even if he is materally wealthy."

And now for the Rock Garden...

Japanese rock gardens like this one are a very Zen concept; it's all about the physical design of the garden and its upkeep. Surely if Zen lives anywhere, it lives here.

The significance of this temple's garden is this: not only was it created around 1500 by a highly respected Zen monk, but the construction is the most important part. In this rectangular garden are no trees, 15 strategically chosen & placed rocks, and white gravel only. The monks rake it religiously with bamboo rakes - that's what the lines in the gravel are from (the raking is another mystery that the brochure does not cover).

It's up to each visitor to find out for him or herself what this unique garden signifies, what your imagination sees in the stones and their placement. Deep. Pam and I decided that we saw a turtle for sure...

Then at the gift shop bakery, you can buy special Tsukubai wash basin-shaped snacks. Adorable.

I end this post with an image of what I had to pee in at the temple...

That happened. It happens a lot here... where your only bathroom option is a hole in the ground. Americans, thank your lucky stars right this minute.


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