Ryogen-in is one of the oldest sub-temples of the Daitoku-ji (大徳寺) temple complex. Built in 1502 by priest Tokei, the oldest statue of the temple dates back to 1250! The Hojo meditation hall is said to be the oldest one in Japan (but then again, such is also the claim for the Hojo of Ryogin-an 龍吟庵). The original gardens where designed by Saomi, a famous gardener of the Muromachi period (13th century).
Closest to the entrance on the left is the study room with the "Kodatei" garden (滹沱庭) which represents a river flowing in China near which the temple founder was living when he was in China. In this garden are two stone called "A" and "Un", which means inhale and exhale, and by extension also refer to many opposites as is common in Zen philosophy (good/evil, heaven/earth,...) This garden is thus said to show the "truth of the universe". If you're on a date note the heart-shaped stone near the well :-) This garden also features an old well. Also, the study has an interesting artefact: the oldest gun in Japan is on display here.
The next garden along the path of visit is tucked between the buildings, below the level of the wooden passage. Named Tokekiko (東滴壺), this garden is more recent (1960) and the classic karesansui type (dry landscape). It is said to be the smallest of this type, but I have seen smaller ;-) Interestingly, the meaning of this garden is very physical: it shows that a heavier stone creates stronger ripples on the water surface.
Clockwise around the hojo are three gardens. The first (southern one) is called "Ishidan" (一枝坦). The largest patch of most in this dry landscape garden represents a turtle, while the two smaller standing stones in the back make the "crane island". These two animals are often depicted in zen gardens, particularly rock gardens. The two large standing stones represent a mountain (Horaizan).
Next, on the western and shorter side of the hojo is a smaller has no recorded meaning; it simply contains the path to the small separated hall "Kaisodo". Finally, on the northern side of the Hojo lies the Ryogin-tei (龍吟庭) garden, which is the oldest in Daitoku-ji. It represents the boundless ocean (the moss) with the large standing stone in the back being the centre of the universe.
Ryogen-in is managed by a family that spans three generations, from the grand-mother to the young kid. In fact, I have seen this kid grow from baby to 6 year-old! You will often see toys near the entrance gate, and it makes this place friendly and warm hearted. Tripods don't seem to be forbidden. A good place to spend a good time!
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kansai, 関西, Kinki, 近畿, Kyoto, 京都, 北区, northern, north, 大徳寺, Daitoku-ji, Daitokuji, temple complex, temple, お寺, 寺院, 卍, 仏閣, 龍源院, ryogen-in, ryogen, zen, karesansui, dry landscape garden, rock garden, 枯山水, かれさんすい, 石庭
Nearby: Oobai-in 黄梅院 (40m), Zuiho-in 瑞峯院 (70m), Korin-in 興臨院 (90m), Daiko-in 大光院 (200m), Koto-in 高桐院 (280m), Soken-in 総見院 (280m), Takeisao-jinja 建勲神社 (440m), Imamiya-jinja 今宮神社 (540m), Myoren-ji 妙蓮寺 (870m), Honpo-ji 本法寺 (930m),...
Visited on 6 occasions, id: 218, 23 photos (30 extra photos can be found in the archive).