Ryoan-ji in Kyoto
by Nicole Garneau
We got a good soaking at Kinkakuji (no, Ryan, unless there is soap involved it does not count as a shower), but we had a warm lunch and the weather cleared up for our visit to the dry garden of Ryoan-ji in Kyoto. This lovely rock garden dates back to the fifteenth century, but went largely undiscovered until the 1930s. Now it is one of Japan's most famous rock gardens. The garden is made up of a long walled rectangle of gravel in which fifteen stones of different sizes are arranged in 5 groups among raked sand. There are patches of moss around each set of stones. Our guidebook said that the layout might be a koan, or riddle, set by Zen masters to test their students, and there is a lot of debate about its meaning. We each had our own theories, but Ryan's were the most imaginative. This was a very peaceful place to visit for quiet contemplation.