Ryoanji - Kyoto

Ryoanji (龍安寺) is one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. It is located at 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Ryoanji (龍安寺)

Ryoanji History

The land where the Ryoanji now stands was once part of an estate owned by the Fujiwara clan in the 11th century. A temple named Daiju-in and the Kyoyochi Pond was built there sometime in the 11th century under the orders of Fujiwara Saneyoshi.

Ryoanji Temple
Ryoanji's famed zen garden

Hosokawa Katsumoto

Then in 1450, the land was acquired by Hosokawa Katsumoto who was a powerful warlord during those days. He built his residence there and founded the Zen temple of Ryoanji. Sadly, the temple was destroyed during the Onin War. Hosokawa Matsumoto passed away in 1473 leaving the task of rebuilding Ryoanji to the hands of his son, Hosokawa Matsumoto who finished the task in 1488.

The Main Hall as seen from across the Kyoyochi Pond

Ryoanji's facade (Kuri) is covered with foliage

Throughout time, the Ryoanji became a famous burial ground for emperors. A part of the temple is known as the "Seven Imperial Tombs". It is the burial place of the following emperors; Uda (867-931)Kazan (968-1008), Ichijo (980-1011), Go-Suzaku (1009-1045), Go-Reizei (1023-1068), Go-Sanjo (1032-1073), and Horikawa (1079-1107). 

The famed Rock Garden is the highlight of the temple

Ryoanji's Rock Garden

Check out those aesthetically placed rocks

Ryoanji is also famous for its Rock Garden. Unlike the temple, the history of the famous Rock Garden is relatively unknown. The designer is never really identified although there are a number of speculations about who really designed it like Tokuho Zenkatsu, the famed landscape artist and painter Soami,  and even Hosokawa Katsumoto himself. The Rock Garden is a rectangular plot that measures 248 square meters. In it are fifteen rocks of different sizes which are grouped into five groups. The rocks tower among the sea of white gravel which is consistently raked by monks daily. It is interesting to note that you won't be able to see all these rocks at the same time from any vantage point. It is believed that you may only see all these rocks through attaining enlightenment. 

The Hojo of Ryoanji

Abbot's Chamber in the Hojo

Check out that dragon painting 

and this one too.

Check out that Stone Water basin

Ryoanji Pagoda

Chokushi-Mon gate

You can view the Rock Garden from the Hojo or the head priest's former residence. Speaking of the Hojo, you'd surely admire the paintings on its fusuma (sliding door). The Hojo is connected to the Kuri or the former temple kitchen which now serves are its main entrance. 

Kyoyochi Pond

Benzaiten Torii

Check out all those water lilies...

...and all those carps

If you have plenty of time to spare, you should also take the chance to explore the Ryoanji temple grounds after visiting the Hojo and the Rock Garden. The temple grounds are quite vast but it has a walking trail that goes around Kyoyochi Pond. While walking around the path, don't miss out on the "hidden" path that leads you to a mini bridge that allows you to visit one of the three islands in the pond. Once you reach the island, you'd get to see a small shrine there. Aside from that, you'd also be presented with a picturesque view of the Kyoyochi Pond. 

Look who waited for me to finish exploring the temple

My family and I got to visit Ryoanji on the 6th day of our 2018 Japan trip. It was the fourth and last UNESCO World Heritage Site that we visited that day. We got to visit the temple in the afternoon and based on what we have read about in other blogs, exploring the temple grounds requires plenty of walking. This disheartened my wife who was already tired from exploring plenty of temples but ever the supportive one, she encouraged me to explore Ryoanji to accomplish our itinerary for the day. True enough, it took me almost an hour to explore Ryoanji. In that length of time, I got to do the following:

1. Visit the Hojo and Kuri
2. See with my own eyes the famed Rock Garden

Ryoanji goshuin

3. Do the goshuin for my temple stamp collection
4. Walk around Kyoyochi Pond and check out the small shrine in one of the mini islands in it

You have to pay the admission fee here.

Ryoanji Admission Fee:

To enter Ryoanji one has to pay 500 Yen entrance fees (adults), and 300 Yen (children).

Ryoanji Opening Hours:

Ryoanji is open from 8AM to 5PM.

Why visit Ryoanji? 

Overall, Ryoanji is a temple that nature lovers would surely love. The Rock Garden and Kyoyochi Pond will never fail to relax the weary soul of any traveler who sees it. I highly suggest this temple to anyone planning to visit Kyoto City.

Getting to Ryoanji:

From the Kinkakujimae bus stop, ride Kyoto City Bus #59 to the Ryoanjimae bus stop. The trip takes around 10 minutes. From the bus stop, walk about 60 meters toward the entrance of Ryoanji (Temple). 
Bus Fare: 230 yen

Overall rating


  1. I have read so many articles or reviews
    concerning the blogger lovers but this post is
    in fact a pleasant piece of writing, keep it up.

  2. Woah I love the photos! Great shots and detail

  3. What a great experience. I love learning about new places.

    1. I'm happy that you have learned something new from my blog article. I do hope you could visit Ryoanji in the future.

  4. What a breath taking temple, this looks like a peaceful place to visit and spend some time.

  5. Lovely article, I love reading all of the adventures!

    1. Thank you Hannah. Please do visit my blog for more. =)

  6. Very discriptive travel blog
    Like it.

    I also have a blog you might find something useful


    1. Checked your blog and it is wonderful. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  7. Such beautiful post- your photos show a tranquil space filled with rich history. Thank you for sharing!

  8. These photos are beauitful! I hope to be able to visit here someday!

  9. I have never been there but I would love to be there. Such a lovely place. Seems you had a great time.

    1. I really did have a great time. You should visit Ryoanji someday.

  10. I'm off to Japan tomorrow - So excited after reading this.


    1. Wow! Good for you! I do hope you get to visit Ryoanji.

  11. I love your photos, we have actually visited this place few years ago but it was under reconstruction so our pictures are not that beautiful :)

    1. Thank you Tereza. =) I hope you get to visit Ryoanji again in the near future.


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