A Japanese Adventure: The Golden Temple & The Rock Garden (Ryoan-ji)

After that unforgettable lunch we were off to explore more of the rich history and culture of Japan!

Our first stop was The Golden Temple !

A little history first (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3908.html)
“Kinkakuji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408.”

It was actually quite difficult to take photographs which didn’t have any tourists in them.. 🙂 .. but we managed to somehow.

On the way:

The Golden Temple:


 

We didn’t stay long… just long enough for everyone to take photos to their hearts’ content before moving on to one of my favorite sites: “The Rock Garden”  – Ryoan-ji

Background:
“Also called the Temple of the Dragon at Peace, Ryoan-ji has what is known as the most famous Zen garden. The refined dry landscape has fifteen enormous stones placed inside 248 square meters of highly polished white gravel. The monks residing at the temple groom the gravel each day and the stones are arranged within the space in five separate groups.

Like most Zen rock gardens, Ryoan-ji’s garden is to be seen from a single vantage point on the veranda of the Abbott’s residence. The rocks of the garden were arranged so that only fourteen of the fifteen stones may be viewed at any given time from any angle. This arrangement ensures that only through attaining enlightenment will one see all fifteen stones simultaneously.” (http://www.bestchoiceschools.com/25-most-inspiring-japanese-zen-gardens/ – Yup Ryoan-ji is number 1 on this list of the 25 rock gardens! 🙂 )

Although it was quite humid, many of us would have gladly spent hours at the Rock Garden, seated in silent contemplation. Even with large number of tourists passing through, the garden had an aura of peace and stillness… making you want to lose yourself in that serenity; disconnected, “unplugged”, finally at a place where you could reflect on yourself, your life and those thoughts, dreams and even those troubling decisions, that you’ve tucked away in the furthest corners of your mind, just because hectic daily work routines don’t let you access and address them freely.

It was interesting to observe that during our time there, even other tourists spoke relatively softly (compared to other sites), so as not to disturb the unique sense of peace. I overheard a fascinating conversation between 2 architects, discussing the mysteries of the design of the Rock Garden. I can’t remember the whole conversation, but one topic that did come up was ‘The Golden Ratio’ and its application in the garden’s architecture and design: How could the very same numbers have been applied so very long ago.. and so very far from places such as the Parthenon in Greece where the Golden Ratio was applied.
Learn more:
The Golden Ratio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio#Architecture
Parthenon and the Golden Ratio: http://www.goldennumber.net/parthenon-phi-golden-ratio/

If I ever get the opportunity, I’d love to revisit the Rock Garden in cooler months and spend a lot more time there… truly refreshing for the mind and soul.


 

And the day was still not over! Our next stop was Arashiyama for some shopping and a walk through the Bamboo Forest! … which will be covered in the next blog post. 🙂

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