Tenryuuji and Ryoanji

Vast Tenryuuji - Famous Zen Rock Garden at Ryoanji


The visit to Tenryuuji was not THAT exciting, but the sun was actually out for the first time in days, and the sunlight on the garden was very nice. Tenryuuji has all the features a tourist might love: lots of buildings, lots of gardens ... and for once, no obvious no-indoor-photography policy (if there was one, I didn't see it). Hence, some of the only indoor shots you'll see on this site.

A side view at Tenryuuji grounds
(tempting to go look but no time)

Stone steps
marking entry to main building

Tenryuuji main buildings

Rooms open to the garden
(note people far right sitting on porch
admiring the pond.)

Garden tree begging to be photographed.

Door open to garden;
nice view through tatami room.

Garden view; from here you can't
quite see the big rocks in the back
that represent a waterfall.

Garden view (there were LOTS
of garden, with paths winding
among them, and gardens snuck
between buildings, too.)

Monk striding by
(Unlike the ones at Daisenin, he didn't chat.)

Monk heading off somewhere scenic

Decorative rail fence ends
(Check out the detail!)

(A young woman later came by
and posed next to it as if about
to hit the drum - for a photo, of course.)

near the bathroom
(co-ed bathroom; very unusual)

(Looks weird because of silly
camera flash.)

Statue of Buddhist goddess
(This fountain/statue may have been
dedicated to someone's mother
... can't remember.)

Fall garden colors

Tall bamboo!

Beautiful stairs up

A mossy hillside
resplendent in the autumn sun.

A nice photo IMHO;
one of my best shots so far

Students at Tenryuuji
(Including authentic joshikousei
(female high school students);
the boys are moving away in background)

The sky above Tenryuuji!

Lotuses growing in water near Tenryuuji.
Lotuses are strongly associated with the Buddha,
but these were looking a bit bedraggled
probably because this was November.


Remember those "Zen garden" kits with the rocks and sand and rake? Well, they're primarily based on Ryoanji's Zen garden, though other places like Daisenin have Zen stone gardens too. I've spared you most of the half-assed photos of the stone garden - it takes a wide lens or better vantage point to capture all of it. Yet, the garden is surprisingly small.

Ryoanji's small lake
where lots of waterfowl used to come.
Note heron-like bird in lower right.

Tourist map
Read the English at bottom.
(You can also see just how vast the
temple grounds really are.)

Stone steps to main building

One of the famous rocks
(Actually 3)

Tourists looking at the garden
(Bet your Zen Garden Kit doesn't have THEM)

A bell
(without flash effects; I was so proud)

Model of Ryoanji garden for the blind;
also helps people see all 15 stones
because normally all 15 are NEVER
all visible at once.

A maple tree in the Ryoanji complex
with sunlight shining through the leaves.
(Most American maples just don't have these tiny leaves!)

Back to Rei's Japan 2003 Photo Index

All Photos, Text Copyright 2003 Eri Izawa