This is a photo of the stone garden of Ryoan-Ji (or at least that’s what the internet tells me. I can’t remember if you need to include the Ji or not. It’s been a while since my trip, guess I’ll have to go back :) ). Hopefully i’ll get to describe more about this after the jump so if you’d like to hear more let’s get to it!

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OK! JAPAN TRIP TIME! So we will start with the morning which began for me at around 4 or 5 am, which in my book was a win because at least it was close to a decent time for the morning considering the 17 hour time difference. I turned on the tv and watched some of the Olympics in Japanese. It was pretty fun trying to understand what they were saying. As it started to approach a decent morning time I sat by my window and enjoyed a nice cup of green tea and enjoyed the sunrise in my air conditioned room. I showered up and went down to have breakfast. The common area was pretty bare and i realized i was about an hour early so i used the time to send some emails home.

When the breakfast came out, it was awesome. The biggest slices of toast, some eggs, salad, sausage, and tea. There might have been more but it’s hard to remember because all the other days i had the Japanese style breakfast (this was the American style one, i don’t’ think they got the memo that Americans don’t usually have salad with breakfast though). At the table i met some of the other people on my tour group and then as it grew closer to the time to leave I managed to meet all of them.

Tammy, our tour guide (image on an earlier post) gathered us all up and lead us to outside to some taxis. Two pulled up, wearing the uniform that seemed all drivers wore, and we took rode to the temple. Being as my first morning on this adventure, I started taking photos of everything in sight. I must have been the urber-tourist.

When we arrived at the temple there was a almost bloomed Lotus flower out front. These flowers are in bloom for about a week before the pedals fall off so it was a great opportunity to see one. On the way up we found a water fountain area where Tammy showed us how to cleanse yourself for the shrine and gave us some history of the area. It was fairly early so there were not a ton of other tourists around but there were tons of workers, all dressed with long sleeves and hats. It must have been brutal for them because of the heat and humidity outside. It was just the morning and i was already starting to sweat through my shirt.

The zen garden we were about to see was one that many Japanese people and travelers around the world would come to to meditate. There are 15 larger stones in the garden where at all points except one you cannot see them all. That is there is always at least one being blocked from your field of view except from one point. One of the youngest of our group found this point extremely fast. There’s has to be some saying about wisdom in youth out there that would apply here but also I’m sure the point is not that there is one point to see all the stone but actually in the fact that most times you don’t actually see the whole of a situation.

After the zen garden we continued through the temple and one thing that i noticed and was pointed out was that the Japanese people taking care of the grounds went way out of their way to preserve every part of nature. There were always wooden beams supporting old tree branches rather then trimming them back. It was quite an area to see and i would highly recommend it.

We followed the path back to the start and went to the busy stop to catch a public bus to the next stop.

The Stone Garden of Ryoan-Ji / Mornings in Kyoto and Ryoan-Ji

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