Ryoan-ji Temple (Rock Garden,location,history)

Ryoan-ji Temple, Rock Garden

The information about Ryoan-ji Temple is is presented here. Ryoan-ji Temple was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1994 as a “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)”. Ryoan-ji Temple is located along “Kinukake-no-michi” with Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ninna-ji Temple. “Kinukake-no-michi” is about 2.5 kilometers long, and if you do not make any detours, you can walk around Ryoan-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, and Ninna-ji Temple, which are all World Heritage Sites, in about 30 minutes.

【Ryoan-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 13 Ryoanji-Goryo-no-Sita-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Ryoanji-mae bus stop (about 1 minutes on foot), Randen Ryoanji Station (about 7 minutes on foot)

Ryoan-ji Temple is located north-northwest of Kyoto Station, and it is recommended to take a bus from Kyoto Station.

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00 (Mar-Nov), 8:30-16:30 (Dec-Feb)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 600 yen, High school student 500 yen, Junior High and Elementary School Students 300 yen

【Ryoan-ji Temple History】

On the site where Ryoan-ji Temple (龍安寺) is located, there was Enyu-ji Temple Temple, which was founded by the 64th Emperor Enyu in 983. Enyu-ji Temple was one of the “four En” temples along with Enkyo-ji Temple, Enjyo-ji Temple, and Enshu-ji Temple, but it later declined. From 991, Tokudaiji Saneyoshi (Fujiwara no Saneyoshi) built a mountain villa and founded Tokudai-ji Temple, but Tokudai-ji Temple also declined after Tokudaiji Saneyoshi’s death. Ryoan-ji Temple was founded in 1450 by Hosokawa Katsumoto, who received a mountain villa from Tokudaiji Kinari, with Giten Gensho and Hippo Soshun as founders. Ryoan-ji Temple is sub-temple of Myoshin-ji Temple. In the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the Onin War (1467-1467) occurred, with Hosokawa Katsumoto as the general of the eastern army and Yamana Sozen as the general of the western army, and Ryoan-ji was destroyed by fire in 1468. After that, it was then temporarily moved to Rakuchu, but was rebuilt back on its original site. In 1473, Hosokawa Katsumoto died at the age of 44, and in 1488 Hosokawa Masamoto, Hosokawa Katsumoto’s son, rebuilt Ryoan-ji Temple with Tokuho Zenketsu. It is said that Seigen-in Temple was built in 1489, Daishu-in Temple in 1493, and Reikou-in Temple in 1582 near Kyoyou-chi Pond. It is said that Hojo was rebuilt in 1499 and a Rock Garden was also created. Rock Garden, also known as the “Tora-no-kowatashi no Niwa” or “Shichi-go-san (753) no Niwa”, but the intention of the creator is not known. The intention of Rock Garden is left to the free interpretation and association of the viewer. In 1507 Hosokawa Masamoto was murdered. In 1588, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi went falcon hunting in Rakuhoku with Maeda Toshiie and others, he saw Itozakura cherry trees planted in front of the Hojo of Ryoan-ji Temple and composed the Waka Poem. Toyotomi Hideyoshi also gave the monk a gold bowl and put up a sign forbidding the cutting down of trees and the killing of wild animals. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603), Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and others donated temple land to Ryoan-ji Temple. After the Edo period (1603-1868), the four schools of Myoshin-ji Temple (Ryosen-ha (Ryosen-an Temple), Tokai-ha (Tokai-an Temple), Reiun-ha (Reiun-in Temple), and Shotaku-ha (Shotaku-in Temple)) took turns administering Ryoan-ji Temple. In the “Miyako meisho-zue” published in 1780, the Kyoyou-chi Pond of Ryoan-ji Temple was introduced as a famous place for mandarin ducks. In 1797, a fire destroyed many temple buildings of Ryoan-ji Temple, including Hojo, Kaizando, and Butsuden. After that, Hojo was rebuilt by moving Hojo from Seigenin, a sub-temple of Myoshinji Temple. After the Meiji Restoration, the temple treasures of Ryoan-ji Temple were scattered due to the separation of Shintoism and Buddhism and Haibutsu-kishaku. In 1975, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited Rock Garden.
*reference・・・Ryoan-ji Temple website

【Ryoan-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★According to temple legend, Rock Garden (Zen Gardena, 石庭, Special Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site) was created in 1499, when Hojo was rebuilt. There are various theories as to who created the garden, including Giten Gnsho, Hosokawa Katsumoto, Soami, Hosokawa Masamoto, and Kanamori Sowa, but the theory that Soami created the garden has long been believed. Rock Garden is a karesansui (dry landscape) style garden measuring about 10 meters in length, 25 meters in width, and 75 tsubo in area. Rock Garden is covered with white sand with a beautiful broom pattern, and 15 stones are arranged in a seemingly random manner. The 15 stones are intentionally placed so that 1 stone is always hidden by another stone, which is said to represent “incompleteness”.
★It is said that Kyoyou-chi Pond (鏡容池) was once an irrigation reservoir, and Ggarden (庭園, Place of Scenic Beauty) was created by renovating the pond. Ggarden is a pond spring walking garden centered around Kyoyou-chi Pond, with Mt. Kinugasa-yama and Mt. Shu-yama at the back of the garden in the borrowed scenery. Ggarden is planted with cherry blossoms, azaleas, wisteria, water lilies, lotus, and bush cloves.
★Hojo (方丈, Important Cultural Property) was built in 1606 by Oda Nobukane, the younger brother of Oda Nobunaga, as the Hojo of Seigen-in Temple, and was moved to Ryoan-ji Temple and rebuilt during the Kansei era (1789-1801). Hojo houses a statue of Miroku Bosatsu.
Ryoan-ji Temple Highlights

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see the cherry blossoms (桜) is around early April. About 400 cherry trees, including Somei-Yoshino and weeping cherry trees, are planted, and it is said that the red weeping cherry tree seen over the wall of Rock Garden is beautiful.
★The best time to see autumn leaves (紅葉) is from mid to late November. Maple trees, cherry trees and other trees are planted, and it is said that the scenery of autumn leaves and Kyoyou-chi Pond is beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-463-2216 (Ryoan-ji Temple)

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Ryoan-ji Temple is along Kinukake-no-michi, heading east to Kinkaku-ji Temple. At Kinkaku-ji Temple, Golden Pavilion built by the pond in the garden is a beautiful sight from season to season. A walk around Ninna-ji Temple on the west side is also recommended. Ninna-ji Temple is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto, and is especially recommended during the cherry blossom season. Both Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ninna-ji Temple are World Heritage Sites, as is Ryoan-ji Temple.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Ryoan-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山