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Ryoan-Ji Zen garden | by Jaime Pérez
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Ryoan-Ji Zen garden

Ryoan-ji belongs to Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. It was established in 1450 on the site of the Tokudaiji (also known as Enyuji), dating back to 983. But the temple burnt down during the Onin War (1467-68) and was reconstructed between 1488 and 1499.


The temple owes its fame to its karesansui (枯山水). a "dry landscape" of 15 rocks amidst a sea of sand. The dry landscape capture the essence of Zen Buddhism's quiet meditation and is considered a masterpiece of Japanese culture. However, the 15th century designer and its interpretation remain unknown.


One particularity of the rocks' layout is that, no matter where one sits, one can only see 14 of them at a time. The garden also changes with the seasons and the shadows brought by the branches reaching over its walls. The longer one stares at it and the more fascinating it becomes. Try to come early the morning to avoid the crowds, especially if you visit it during the school trip season or school holidays.

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Taken on April 21, 2008