No matter from where visitors view Japan's most famous rock garden, at least one rock is always hidden from sight. That's one of the reasons that Ryoan-ji, a temple with an accompanying zen rock garden, attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Originally a residence for aristocrats, the site was converted to a Buddhist temple in 1450. The temple features traditional Japanese paintings on sliding doors, a refurbished zen kitchen, and tatami, or straw mat, floors.
The temple's main attraction has always been the rock garden, as much for its meditative qualities as a desire to find meaning in its minimalistic attributes. The garden is a rectangular plot of pebbles with 15 larger stones on moss swaths interspersed seemingly arbitrarily. Some have said the garden represents infinity; others see it in an endless sea. Ryoan-ji is nestled down a wooded path that crosses over a beautiful pond with several walking trails. The luscious setting is as attractive as the temple itself.
Take a JR bus from Kyoto Station directly to Ryoan-ji. The bus ride takes approximately 30 minutes, and buses run every 15-30 minutes. Another option is to take a bus ride of a 20 minute walk from Kinkaku-ji Temple. By train, take the Keifuku Kitano line, get off at Ryoanji-michi Station, and walk approximately 5-10 minutes to the temple. The entrance fee is 500 yen ($5USD), and the temple is open year-round from 8:00m-5:00pm March through November and 8:30am-4:30pm December through February.