The enduring image of a raked rock garden reflects the spirit of Zen Buddhism.
One of the most iconic images of Japan is a large rocky island adrift in a sea of meticulously raked gravel. The Karesansui rock gardens date back to the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) as an aid to meditation in Zen temples. The gardens are meant to hint at the true essence of nature.
While there are many dry landscape Zen gardens throughout Japan, the most famous is Kyoto’s Ryoan-ji Temple, in the northwestern corner of the city. Looking at the small rectangle of 15 rocks of Ryoan-ji amidst white pebbles, the visitor must reflect on the meaning of it all.