Feature Foto #6: Ryōan-ji

This edition of Feature Foto is about the Ryōan-ji Temple (竜安寺) in Kyoto (京都). The name means "Temple of the Peaceful Dragon" and it belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. It is recognised as an Ancient Historic monument. My photos are dedicated to the karesansui (枯山水), or "rock garden" which was created near the end of the 15th century.

Before I continue, I want to take a moment to talk about the word, "karesansui" 枯山水 itself. Those of you who are students of the japanese language might find it odd that the word for dry rock garden contains the character "sui" 水 meaning "water." This is because the karesansui is one of two main types of japanese rock garden and it's meant to represent the sea. It for this reason that the fine pebbles are arranged in the form of rippling pools that mimic the motion of water! Is that totally kool or what? ^^

Much time, care and effort went into the design and creation of this karesansui and it was constructed in such a way that all elements of the garden are visible only by those who have attained enlightenment. For the rest of us, a viewing from any available angle (other than from the air) will provide only a partial view. This is easily one of my most cherished locations in all the world because of its exquisite beauty and also for the overwhelming peacefulness and tranquility that it inspires in visitors. Despite the fact that the garden can accommodate quite a few guests, the area is very quiet!

A visit to Ryōan-ji is not something that should be rushed; you'll want to spend some time here as its effect of recharging the soul is surprisingly powerful and spiritually invigorating. If you're planning a trip to Kyoto, you should definitely add this to your list of top priorities.

If you have Google Earth, download Ryōan-ji's place marker.

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