RYŌAN-JI; The most famous rock garden
The Zen temple Ryōan-ji (The Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Buddhist Zen temple that has been synonymous with the temple's famous kare-sansui, a rock garden. The temple and gardens are listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More below...
Although it is not entirely sure who built the Rock garden in 1450 it was probably Hosokawa Katsumoto (1430-1473), a warlord and deputy to the Shogun. Katsumoto built his residence and founded a zen temple, Ryōan-ji, on the grounds of an old temple. 400 years earlier existed here a temple built by the powerful Fujiwara family.
Although it is the Rock Garden that is best known consists Ryoan-ji also of an aqueous garden, a tea garden and a tea house.
Ryoan-ji can be reached directly from Kyoto Station by JR bus in about 35 minutes and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Ryoanji is also a five minute bus ride or 20 minute walk west of Kinkakuji.
The temple can also be reached by the JR Keifuku Kitano Line and get off at Ryoanji-michi Station from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to Ryoan-ji.