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“Had We World Enough and Time...”
Review of Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple
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Private Full Day Kyoto Streets Tour with a Photographer
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Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle
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Private Custom Tour: Kyoto in One Day
Ranked #26 of 1,120 things to do in Kyoto
Certificate of Excellence
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Level 5 Contributor
76 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
“Had We World Enough and Time...”
Reviewed September 18, 2013

Andrew Marvell about summed it up for me (although in a different context). Were I a Zen Monk who could wake, sit on the outskirts of the garden and contemplate the if-ness of being for free and for hours on end, I'd have no complaint. Considering the considerable amount of time, energy and more than 400 Yen to get there and the 500 Yen to gain admission, however, I expect a whole lot more from a sight than what I saw.

Were it free, were it a mere 200 Yen or so, I'd probably have also have no complaints. But to have the temerity to charge 500 Yen knowing people have already come a great distance at no inconsequential expense to offer up a minimalist offering such as this, then call a small path with (granted interesting) evergreens leading to a simple, lily-padded lake a "landscape garden" strikes me as a bit cynical and exploitive.

I thought monks were supposed to be in search of enlightenment through the surrendering of desires. They seem to desire a princely sum per head for a small rock garden and an un-landscaped pond.

Want a Zen experience where you'll get a whole lot more bang for your 500 Yen entrance fee? Skip this place and head to Ginkakuji. A truly sculpted and meticulously maintained garden where you'll know you saw Japanese artistry and Zen at work (instead of worrying that you'll be indentified as not "hip" if you don't "get it"). Trust me, you likely won't regret it.

It's not a bad sight, it's an over-rated and over-priced one.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank Wanderlust7342
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Romanshorn, Switzerland
Level 6 Contributor
178 reviews
91 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“the mother of all zen gardens”
Reviewed September 16, 2013

the world-famous, unesco-site "rock garden" is located at the ryoanji temple. there's a minimal fee but it was all worth it. it was not that crowded. after a few minutes walk around the well-maintained lake and other garden, you will reach the rock garden. the atmosphere was surreal. it was serene. it was sacred. it was balanced especially when you start staring the garden. there were like 9-10 different forms of rock located in the garden. this was built of course after ZEN principle. we had to take off our shoes to enter the temple

Visited August 2013
Thank tumfave815
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 5 Contributor
42 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Zen at its best”
Reviewed September 5, 2013

We made the mistake to hire bikes in Kyoto and cyclists really dangle at the bottom of the traffic food chain. Pedestrians (you have to bike on the sidewalk) simply ignore you so you get pretty fed up. Luckily we went to Ryoanji and almost immediatey our Western frustrations were gone. The atmosphere is great and peacefully. The rocks in the Zen garden are placed in a way that you'll never them all at the same time. No matter from what angle, you'll only see 14 of the 15 rocks, apparently only through true Zen enlightenment will you be able to see them all. Guess our frustrating bike trip ruined those chances :)

Visited November 2012
Thank Emma H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lexington, Kentucky
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Epitome of Zen”
Reviewed September 3, 2013 via mobile

For an amazing Zen experience put this on your list. Beautiful ponds, water lillys, sculptures among beautiful landscaping, a Japanese rock garden, shrines... a lot is packed in to this beautiful temple. Very calming.

Visited August 2013
Thank briarrogue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kuala lumpur
Level 6 Contributor
237 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 231 helpful votes
“Less is More Part 82 - Rock of Ages”
Reviewed September 3, 2013

I can help but read with a little amusement some of the disappointed reviews. Its almost like making a comparison between the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David to see which one had a higher entertainment value.

While everyone tries to explain or analyze the symbolism of the fifteen rocks, garden historian Gunter Nitschke describes them simply as, "An abstract composition of "natural" objects in space, a composition whose function is to incite meditation." I can buy into that. Even on a busy summer afternoon with literally dozens of people sitting cheek to jowl on the verandah overlooking the rock garden, a sense of serenity and calm does tangibly permeate the place. The chatter dies down, people begin to speak in muted tones and walk in a measured pace. It is quite remarkable how several seemingly ordinary rocks yield such influence over the crowds!

We too sat there for about 30 minutes just enjoying the garden composition from different viewpoints and the continuous visitors parading past. The late afternoon seems to be the ideal time to visit as the sun was behind us, so it was very restful and cooling on the verandah. It was also optimum for photography with the rocks illuminated from the front without annoying shadow lines. I would certainly include this as one of the top 5 places to visit in Kyoto.

Visited August 2013
Thank ECKLKualaLumpur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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