D2 – Kyoto Exchange – Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple is very famous, world renowned actually. If you’ve ever seen a poster from Kyoto, or Japan, with a rock garden it was likely Ryoanji. The grounds of the temple are very spread out and there’s a large lake at the entrance of the temple grounds.

We were so very fortunate to be visiting during the peak of the cherry blossom season. The grounds of the temple were amazingly beautiful with all the trees in full bloom.

The students quickly found an island to go out and see, then shouted back across the lake and asked me to take their picture on the stone bridge. Another Twitter moment.


We then headed for the actual temple and famous rock garden. Some other students were coming down as we started our way up the steps to the temple.

This garden was built in the 15th Century and includes only 15 stones and white gravel. The walls are made of clay boiled in oil. The pattern on the walls has created itself over the years as oil seeps out of the clay. From any viewing point in the temple you can only see 14 of the 15 stones. The garden measures twenty five by ten meters. It is truly amazing to behold, expecially when you consider its age.

This garden is different from the other gardens in Japan because there are no trees inside the walls. However, even here in the Ryoanji Temple gardens the cherry trees are flashing their blooms from beyond the wall.

This first stop on our tour the first day was a great way to start. Around every corner we found something else. At one point in our walk around the temple grounds we witnessed a lady hunched over under a cherry tree with a straw hand broom and large dust pan sweeping up the fallen cherry blossoms. One of the students commented “You would never see that in America”. Even in the gardens there is nothing out of place.

Another example of small versions of American objects greeted us as we walked through the parking lot of the Ryoanji Temple on our way to our next stop, the Golden Pavillion. It was a miniature Coke truck. Only fitting when you consider the coke bottles and cans are around 8oz in Japan.

After everyone took pictures it was off to our next stop, yes, walking . . .


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