Japan 2012 - Ryoanji Temple
Ryoanji Temple is within walking distance from Kinkaku-ji Temple. It contains the most famous Zen garden in Japan. The garden consists of a number of small rocks surrounded by a sea of white pebbles which are painstakingly raked each day to form the ripple patterns. The origin of the garden is a bit mysterious, and one of the interesting features is that out of the 15 stones which form the design, at least one will be hidden from the viewer from any vantage point.
From Kinkaku-ji Temple to Ryoanji is a short walk of around 20 min. You will pass through some interesting local housing areas and is a very enjoyable stroll when the weather is good.
The temple has a large garden compound that is quite beautiful. Unfortunately when I was there it started to rain quite heavily.
Sitting on the verandah of the hojo and contemplating the garden is one of those experiences that you musn't miss on a trip to Kyoto. At first the garden may seem like just a pile of rocks. But slowly you begin to see the genius behind the design, as it provides you with a connection to nature at a much deeper level - not through its replication of natural beauty, but through its abstraction of nature.