Travel: Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Travel: Magnificent Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Ryōan-ji (meaning the Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in Kyoto, Japan. The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst a sweep of smooth pebbles arranged in immaculate linear patterns, designed to facilitate meditation. The temple and its gardens are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My meditative video of Ryoan-Ji temple and gardens

I hope you find it soothing and the peacefulness of this place comes across here in the video…

The music you are listening to is the classic Japanese ambient album by Hiroshi Yoshimura called A.I.R (Air in Resort). Yoshimura took inspiration from the natural environment and Zen gardens of Japan for his ambient masterpieces and this seemed like an appropriate choice.

The Zen Garden – Wabi Sabi

Ryōan-ji dry garden.The clay wall, which is stained by age with subtle brown and orange tones, reflects “wabi” and the rock garden “sabi”, together reflecting the Japanese worldview or aesthetic of “wabi-sabi”.

The garden is designed to be viewed from a seated position on the veranda of the hōjō, the residence of the abbot of the monastery.

The garden is a rectangle of 248 square meters. Inside of this are fifteen stones of different sizes. The stones are surrounded by white gravel, which is carefully raked each day by the monks. The only vegetation in the garden is some moss around the stones.

The stones are placed so that the entire composition cannot be seen at once from the veranda. They are also arranged so that when looking at the garden from any angle (other than from above) only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time. It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder.

John Cage

The garden had particular significance for the composer John Cage, who composed a series avante-garde works that are inspired by the Zen garden.

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